York St John launches free legal advice clinic

Published: 16/09/2020

A law clinic offering free legal advice and assistance to members of the public and small businesses has been launched at York St John University.

4 people standing outside office buildings on campus

York St John Law Clinic staff (l-r) Adam Wilson, Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, Ben Fitzpatrick, Chris Smith.

Based in the University’s Business School, York St John Law Clinic will provide free legal help and advice which people may not be able to access elsewhere. Working alongside their lecturers, final year law students will advise on a range of legal matters including civil disputes, landlord and tenant matters and family proceedings. Students will also be able to help EU nationals make their applications for ‘settled status’ and offer support to the victims of hate crime, working in partnership with City of York Council. There is support for entrepreneurs and those looking to start up their own businesses and create jobs. Students will also offer confidential advice to prisoners and help those who feel they are victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Working with local agencies and charitable organisations, York St John Law Clinic aims to meet an acute community need for accessible legal advice and assistance amongst an ever-increasing number of people who cannot afford help and who otherwise would be unable to access justice. In doing so, final year law students are offered an enriched learning experience which enables them to develop transferable professional skills during their time at university which are often difficult to learn in the classroom.

Chris Smith, Senior Lecturer in Law at York St John University is heading up the Law Clinic. He says:

“York St John Law Clinic aims to complement, rather than compete with, services offered by the Citizens Advice Bureau and commercial firms. We intend to build on our partnership with City of York Council supporting victims of hate crime and EU nationals applying for settled status. We also keen to develop our relationship with Changing Lives, supporting women going through family proceedings alone and who may be survivors of domestic abuse.”

He adds: “We want our students to develop as emotionally intelligent and socially-aware professionals who are able to ‘hit the ground running’ in their careers and who will retain a strong commitment to social justice and serving their community throughout their working lives.”

The launch of York St John Law Clinic builds on the success of a recent initiative based at York County Court which provides free support to litigants in person (people without a solicitor). The Community Legal Outreach Collaboration Keele (CLOCK) scheme sees students and staff from York St John University and the University of York join together to help vulnerable people navigate one of the most difficult experiences in their lives by filling in court forms, signposting to a range of support services and taking notes during court hearings.

York St John Law Clinic will be based at York Business School on York St John University’s city-centre campus. All advice will be strictly confidential and is overseen by experienced staff employed by the University.

For more information and to access the service please visit www.yorksj.ac.uk/working-with-the-community/law-clinic, call 01904 876976 or email lawclinic@yorksj.ac.uk.

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