Sheffield Hallam University launches student-staffed law firm

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SHU Law will offer aspiring lawyers real-life work experience during their LLBs

📸 Sheffield Hallam University – credit: mattbuck

Sheffield Hallam University has taken its first steps into the legal services market with the launch of its very own student-staffed law firm, following similar moves by the likes of Nottingham Trent University and The University of Law (ULaw).

SHU Law is a fully-regulated not-for-profit outfit with its own office space featuring a reception, interview rooms, call centre, back office and lecture room where students can work on real-life legal cases. Similar to university pro bono clinics, students working at the firm will be fully supervised and trained by two qualified lawyers.

Due to open next week, the university hopes the venture will not only educate law students about “the practicalities of working as a lawyer on ‘live’ cases”, but also act as a valuable source of free and paid for legal advice to members of the local community.

“By placing our students at the centre of a live client clinical environment we are creating a unique learning opportunity that’s reflective of real-life practice”, said Professor Elizabeth Smart, head of law at Sheffield Hallam University. “SHU Law will enhance their employability and graduate attributes in the world of work and inspire students academically and emotionally with the confidence to succeed.”

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First-year students will complete a six-week induction course with the firm as part of their introduction to law and practice. Returning in their second year, students will work on both contentious and non-contentious matters, as well as getting to grips with legal education and practice policy. This will continue into their third and final year. The university claims to be the first to offer a law degree that incorporates legal work experience into every year of the course.

Sheffield Hallam isn’t the first university to dip its toe into the legal services market.

As reported by Legal Cheek, Nottingham Trent University launched a ‘teaching law firm’ in October 2015 when it was granted Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Building on its success, it created a commercial arm in 2017 offering “affordable” legal advice to small businesses, entrepreneurs and charities. But it wasn’t the first university to scoop ABS status. That particular accolade went to ULaw in March 2015.

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Person of Penge

I think they should have tick box letters for people they can’t help, perhaps worded as follows:

Dear Sir, Madam or other,

Thank you for contacting this firm.

I’m sorry, I can’t take your case on because (delete as applicable):

– Your case involves issues which trigger me.

– You are alleged to have said words that I find offensive.

– There are elements of your case that suggest that you may have undertaken cultural appropriation or have expressed sentiments approving of the same.

– That you are not a member of a protected characteristic group, and I wish only to protect the disadvantaged.

– That you are male, and I do not feel comfortable being in a room alone with you for that reason.

– That you have previously expressed disagreement or dissatisfaction with advice given, indicating that you undertake micro-aggressions, contrary to university policy.

– That you voted “Leave”, indicating that you may harbour racist or xenophobic attitudes (whether consciously or subconsciously).

– That you have previously used gender-specific language towards a member of staff before ascertaining their self-defined gender status (also known as “assuming their gender”), contrary to the micro-aggression policy (above).

– Are white and have not acknowledged your privilege.

– That you are known to have attended a “comedy” event in which jokes were made about a protected characteristic.

This decision is final, and any attempt to dispute it will result in action being taken against you for breaching the university micro-aggressions policy.








The fact that, by implication, you approve of those sentiments indicates that you are unfit to be a law student or a lawyer.

If you want to identify yourself I will happily report you to your Dean or regulator, so you can justify yourself there.

We work very hard as students and are genuinely trying to help people.

Your comments are upsetting, offensive, demotivating and may even constitute a criminal offence.

Comments of this nature are unacceptable in any professional or academic sphere, and you need to learn that.



Banter (albeit it was not original banter) wasted on the students of today.



Banter is always the excuse for inappropriate hate speech.



You’re not helping the millenial stereotype he was bantering.



The post is offensive to students and needs to be removed now.



Did you forget to change your Drynites this morning, hun?


Snowflake little princess is offended.


Out of interest, what is the test of fitness to be a law student?



If you want to give them real-life experience just send them a rejection letter.



This is great in theory but in my experience a lot of vacation schemers from Russell Groups aren’t really ready to do even simple admin tasks, so I question whether a group of polytechnic teenagers can provide a quality client service.



I may not have gone to the hallowed halls of a RG University, but I can make my way round a document and case management system blindfolded, let alone being able to make a document that is consistent with firm’s practice offering to its clients.

Life skills from the school of hard knocks; the ability to actually adapt given the substandard teaching I have endured.



Bless. Jenny from the block alert. You probably think passionate speeches about justice sway a judge.


Jenny from the Block

Pretty sure it is common sense that a judge is swayed on the points of law put forward, and their persuasive relevance to the facts of the case.

Justice does not exist in the block, so why would I preach it?



You’re a non contentious case handler. Get back in your lane.


Jenny from the Block

I am not, but if that sits better with you by all means tell yourself that.



Jenny, you need to return to your admin masquerading as legal work.



Lmao burn Jenny burn


Exactly the point of this. Make them actually do admin tasks to teach them. Makes them considerably more employable. Also, going to a polytech doesn’t make you stupid. It could be a result of bad teaching, poor exam skills or it could be a sign that you’re a late bloomer. Oh and before you say anything. I went to Exeter not a polytech



LMAO everyone knows Exetah is shyte






how so?



wots there nq rate? are they an top us shop? i rly dream of being a critical motor liability insurance lawyr, cd u plz advice me ?



I suggest you dumb down your language a bit, you’re clearly overqualified so you may intimidate your potential employers.



u tryin 2 say he stoopid or somthng ???



Nope, that he’ll be too good. Do keep up.



Most important question: will they be paying to work, or paid to work?



Good question these days tbh






Hal Lam




Mixed feelings about this.

After becoming a trainee, I suddenly came to realise how little importance most (top) law firms place on having actual experience before securing a TC.

All they care about, and perhaps rightly so, is seeing good grades from a reputable academic institution since the actual training and experience will be provided throughout the TC anyway.



Thank you for confirming something I’ve always wondered/known.

Firms are a bunch of liars! Just have the grades and mouth to sweet talk and you’re through. I’m sure it really doesn’t matter about the experience just as long it makes sense. I can’t be mad because there’s so little spaces to go around but firms should apply some common sense and have an holistic view. Oh well *back to applying*



I don’t think its that so much. Its that it is very oversubscribed. Typically grades will be awarded a certain percentage of the overall score. At my firm we give 30% of grades, 20% for experience and 50% for the answers to the application form questions. If you only had good grades you’d be rejected as there’s bound to be another applicant who has good grades but has experience of some kind and so outscores you.

If your grades are not so good you might well outscore a candidate with better grades but lesser experience or who gave worse answers to the problem questions. But you may still struggle as there is likely to be another candidate with similar experience but better grades. The typical appliciant will have good A-Levels and a 2.1. They also will have experience. The typical applicant will however be rejected simply because they number of applicants is much higher than the number of available places.

Experience counts as does how well you answer problem questions. But if your grades are weak, you may not be able to make up for it by experience as candidates with better grades will often have similar levels of experience.



Maybe so but if you do stellar work and demonstrate a natural talent for practical legal work, firms are bound to take some notice. At any rate, in a field as competitive as the legal profession, every little bit counts.


Sheffield Haram




LC cleaning the comments section up again. Typical.


Lord Harley of Counsel

Jaflas is the biggest and best pro bobo law firm.


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