First cohort of aspiring solicitors working with the public at York St John Law Clinic
Published: 02 November 2021
Three years after the introduction of the York St John University law degree, the subject area continues to go from strength to strength. The first graduates from the course are now able to progress to accredited postgraduate study which will prepare them to join the legal profession. York St John law graduates have been joined by students from a range of other UK universities as well as students from America, Egypt and Sri Lanka.
The LLM Legal Practice (LPC) incorporates a postgraduate qualification needed for entry to the solicitors’ profession in England & Wales. This innovative course gives students the chance to gain professional legal experience working in the York St John Law Clinic, where they provide free advice and assistance to the public and small businesses under the supervision of qualified staff. The course is one of just two in the country to assess students’ competence in a law clinic setting.
York St John Law Clinic reflects the University’s passion for social justice, helping those who cannot afford legal advice and assistance. Its work has expanded this year, moving into brand new, customer facing premises on campus with a suite of offices, conference and interview rooms, offering direct access to the public from Lord Mayor’s Walk.
70 undergraduate and postgraduate students along with experienced staff will support dozens of members of the public and small businesses who need advice and assistance with a wide range of legal issues. Students are also working on specific projects to support those in need, including CLOCK in which students help those without representation in family proceedings, including survivors of domestic abuse, with form-filling and attending court hearings. Students are also supporting SETTLED, helping EU citizens secure their settled status following Brexit.
Chris Smith, Director of Professional Practice, said: “We are delighted to be marking our return to campus following the pandemic with the launch of this exciting new course and our fantastic new client-facing premises for York St John Law Clinic on Lord Mayor’s Walk.
“As an institution with a deep commitment to social justice, it is important that we provide students with opportunities to access the legal profession. Training them in York St John Law Clinic will help them make immediate contributions to employers’ businesses whilst developing students into socially generous lawyers with a lifelong commitment to giving back to the community. York St John Law Clinic provides a much-needed community resource to enhance access to justice, and our new premises on Lord Mayor’s Walk ensures easy access to free legal advice and assistance in York City Centre.”
Lauren Kelly and Katy Harris graduated from York St John University's Law degree last year and are now among the 22 aspiring solicitors on the LLM Legal Practice (LPC).
Lauren said: “I think one of the strengths of the LLM LPC at York St John is how much of the work replicates the work we will be undertaking in our future legal careers, such as drafting, interviewing, and negotiating within all modules. Additionally, the integration of the Law Clinic in the course is invaluable experience for us as future lawyers as we are interacting with clients, conducting interviews, drafting documents and researching various areas of the law to provide advice – all skills that will be crucial to our careers. Working within the Law Clinic also means we are able to use real client work for assessments, which is invaluable experience.
“It is great to have the client facing premises as it gives us a face to the public – so that they know where they can go if they ever need to access free legal assistance.”
Katy added: “My general ambition was to always go to university to study law and then continue into my masters. With York St John offering a combined course of the LLM and LPC – it was something I could not turn down; it is a fantastic opportunity if you wish to become a solicitor.
“What attracted me most was the jump in professionalism from undergrad to postgrad. This became apparent during the induction week to the course. We were all used to being students, but this course demands a more professional approach which in turn sets us up for our careers in the not so near future.”