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University of Law beats rivals to bag first teaching law firm licence

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Nottingham left to lick its wounds as the country’s biggest law school is awarded alternative business structure status

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Europe’s biggest law school has stolen a march on its English competition in the race to become the first academic law firm.

The University of Law — which is currently home to a student body of some 17,000 — has bagged an alternative business structure licence from the solicitors’ profession regulator.

That means that the law school which provided the vocational training to many of the legal profession great and good — from Cherie Blair to current shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan — can now ask its students to dole cheap and cheerful advice through a variety of pro bono programmes with the additional oomph of being a fully-accredited law firm.

According to the university, the licence will allow the institution to expand its legal advice clinic, from which trainee solicitors — under the supervision of qualified lawyers — offer pro-bono advice to the public in various areas of social welfare law.

The move will have officials at rivals Nottingham Law School feeling sick as parrots. Less than a fortnight ago, Nottingham Trent University trumpeted its bid to become the first teaching law school, but that application is still pending with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

According to the SRA’s ABS register, the University of Law is now licensed to undertake rights of audience, conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities and administration of oaths.

Indeed, swearing oaths can go for about a tenner a pop, which could mean a healthy ale kitty for the law students camped out in the union bar.

ULaw chief executive and president John Latham commented on the award of the licence:

“Being the first University to be granted an ABS status means that we can provide trainees and our law firm and in-house clients with a market-leading proposition that will equip the trainees for the legal and commercial challenges they will face in today’s workplace.

“Being able to provide practical experiences in a client-facing environment is a fundamental part of the training needed for aspiring solicitors. Our legal advice clinic enables us to offer a pivotal service and sets us apart from other legal training providers and underlines our continuing commitment to give our trainees a distinct advantage that helps them stand out from the crowd in the competitive legal market.”

Previously:

Nottingham Law School in bid to become first ever ‘teaching law firm’ [Legal Cheek]