Nottingham Trent’s student-staffed ‘teaching law firm’ launches commercial advice arm

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Legal centre was handed an ABS licence by the SRA in 2015

Nottingham Law School’s pioneering law clinic has entered the commercial legal services market for the first time, with the launch of a business and enterprise arm.

Part of Nottingham Trent University, the centre first hit Legal Cheek headlines back in October 2015 when it was granted Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Transforming the pro bono clinic into a “teaching law firm”, the upgrade allowed the student-staffed hub to charge for legal advice. Just one year later, the clinic won ‘Best Contribution by a Law School’ at the LawWorks pro bono awards.

Now, the launch of the commercial arm means law students will be able to provide what the university describes as “affordable” commercial legal advice to small businesses, entrepreneurs and charities. This advice will be supervised by qualified solicitors and cover a range of issues including employment rights and intellectual property matters.

Commenting on the launch of the Business and Enterprise Law Service, Nicholas Johnson, senior lecturer and director of pro bono at Nottingham Law School, said:

The number of people in self-employment is growing, as is the number of small to medium sized businesses, and legal costs can take a significant amount out of what may only be a small budget. This new service offers affordable access to initial legal advice on a whole range of topics, while also giving our students valuable commercial skills and experience.

Stressing that free legal advice will remain the centre’s priority, the dean of Nottingham Law School, Professor Janine Griffiths-Baker, added:

The Legal Advice Centre has been involved in a number of commercial advice projects, including the publication of two books on intellectual property, and we’re keen to grow this side of our service. The acquisition of an ABS licence has allowed the centre to expand and while our main focus is still pro bono, we’re now able to offer additional services for a small charge — with any profit going back into the work of the centre.

Nottingham wasn’t the first law school to bag an ABS license. Back in 2015 we brought you the news that The University of Law (ULaw) had secured ABS approval from the regulator, making it the country’s first academic law firm.

According to the SRA’s ABS register, ULaw’s legal advice clinic is licensed to undertake these legal activities: rights of audience, conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities and administration of oaths.

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They would have to pay me to take advice off a Nottingham Trent student.



Why the hostility? Chances are as students, they will only be handling more simple commercial disputes in addition to their pro-bono work, and arguably utilizing Counsel advice more liberally, since their Principals will be under no illusion as to the amount of experience their staff have.

Ultimately though it is still a training wheels environment, and may provide an additional opportunity to see legal practice in action (for all it’s excitement…).



Indeed. I think 9.34 just doesn’t like the threat to the self-protectionism racket.

This is a good way to give traditionally excluded-by-discrimination groups a taste of legal practice.


Mr Sheridan

I hate Jaffa cakes. So dry, the taste is not natural either. Just why bother, because the law university told me that I hated digestives? Get jaff’d.



In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now.


Corbyn. Sympathiser.

Are you alright?


Mr Sheridan

I was in a bad way this morning. I am fine now.


To intelligent

This is a disaster waiting to happen.



A bit like the SQE.



And your spelling – “too”


To intelligent

You’re spelling *


Not Amused

The country needs to take law much more seriously than it does. We are the only western nation to not teach our kids the constitution. It is a disgrace that aged 10 our children become liable for crimes which the state never bothers to reach them.

Our media is now almost wholly legally illiterate.

In to this world the regulator decides what is needed as a kids club. The golden rule should be – if you wouldn’t do it with medicine then don’t do it with law.



You have been told time and time again that law and medicine are not equally comparable yet you still spout this nonsense. For a self proclaimed barrister you have a hard time listening to people.



You might want to have a look at Crimeline’s twitter feed for a couple of student law clinics failing to cover themselves with glory in the Court of Appeal. An interesting contrast to the various ‘good news’ stories the PR machines churn out.


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