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Bolton Uni looks to tackle lack of local legal support with new student-staffed pro bono clinic

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Launches next month

The Legal Advice Centre will be based at the university’s Institute of Management (pictured) — Credit: University of Bolton

The University of Bolton is to launch a new student-staffed pro bono clinic to help tackle the “huge gap” in local legal support.

The Legal Advice Centre, headed up by Ian Bowden, a law lecturer at the university and a practising solicitor advocate, will offer initial legal advice to members of the public through appointments and drop-in sessions on Friday afternoons.

It will be staffed by second and third year law students who will receive training in the initial part of the Legal Practice Course (LPC) before joining the centre. Like with similar pro bono projects, students will work under the close supervision of legal professionals from the university’s School of Law.

The centre launches against a backdrop of reduced access to free legal advice. Government figures show that half of the not-for-profit legal advice services in England and Wales have shut their doors over the past few years. In 2013/14 there were 94, but by 2019/20 only 47 remained.

The 2019 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

“There are many cases that we know are not being dealt with at the moment and that is where we come in,” Bowden said. “The aim of the centre is to offer a valuable service to the people of Bolton, while at the same time providing an important learning experience for students.”

The centre, which opens next month, will provide members of the public with an online portal where they can submit their legal enquiry. While students provide the initial advice, some matters will be passed on to external organisations including Bolton Law Society or Citizens Advice.

The news comes just weeks after Legal Cheek reported that the University of Bristol had expanded its student-staffed law clinic to offer bereaved families free legal help at inquests.

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26 Comments

Anonymous

“Goodbye first-rate education, hello the University of Bolton”

Peter Kay

I’ve got firsthand experience so I’m all for shitting on UoB, but pro bono advice is valuable and Bolton is struggling as a town.

Don’t be an elitist prick for once in your life?

Anonymous

This is fair – the pro-bono is a cracking idea. Don’t want to jump to conclusions but the areas the students will deal with in the clinic are probs ones they’re going to practice in? Bolton -> Private Equity is not a heavily trodden path

Anonymous

I completely agree with your point, but to be fair the LC comment board is the worst place to be if you don’t want to interact with elitist pricks. Hurrr Duur dolla traaain!

Anonymous

Neither the social value of pro bono nor the struggles of Bolton as a town have anything to do with whether UoB provides first-rate education… so not sure why you’re calling anyone an elitist prick when you seem to agree that it’s fair game to shit on UoB

LLB

What would be the average office leave time in silver circle? HSF, Ashurst etc

Anon

9pm on a good day, early hours of the morning some days.

Anonymous

Nah, varies massively between practice areas. Many areas will definitely be out the door before 9pm on average.

Anonymous

I’m a partner at an SC firm. My working hours are 9:30 am to 4: 30 pm (with an hour for lunch, of course). I make about £300,000 a year.

Anonymous

What’s the nq whack at Clyde & Co these days ?

Anonymous

Proper phat wedge.

JK

63k. Rumours it could rise to 70 this year.

Anonymous

Good news. More of these programmes will help taxpayer money being wasted on legal representation.

By gum

The late, great Fred Dibnah was born in Bolton.

Bolton LLM

Is SPB a top firm

Juan

I’ve managed to get a job as a chef in the cantine at Kirkland. With my foot in the door, is there a chance I could progress to paralegal and then to trainee?

Bolton university staff

Unqualified, no experience D students giving legal advice? Sounds like a top idea!

Anonymous

Still better than taxing me. Sick of paying tax to fund the underclass.

Anonymous

Safari guides in Africa have a saying in the event that a tour group is attacked by a wild animal: “You don’t need to be the fastest person, just faster than the slowest person.”

Similarly, one could argue that a lawyer doesn’t need to be the most intelligent person around, just more intelligent than their client.

Anonymous

You mean more intelligent than the other side’s lawyer?

Anonymous

You’re clearly not a lawyer…

Anonymous

The less demand for taxpayers’ money to fund the grasping underclass the better.

Luther Lanetti

Smug comments from privately educated elitists incoming. Not that I care, even someone from a comprehensive sink school in the North can do better than Bolton.

Anonymous

Pro bono should always be applauded. Free legal advice should always be encouraged. It helps the public (hence the name) and it should ease students into understanding the world of becoming a lawyer. What could possibly be wrong with that?

The answer, of course, lies with WHY you are doing it and HOW you are doing it.

If you really wanted to help the public you would join a scheme to help the Citizens Advice Bureau with the excellent work they currently do in Bolton and elsewhere. You would do it under their aegis and rely on their long experience as a guide.

You would not do it just as a cheap way of getting publicity. Publicity for a failing law degree, in a failing university. A university which, thanks to its Vice-Chancellor, is increasingly becoming an embarrassment to the town in which it is situated.

The pro bono scheme will be “supervised by the Law team”, we are told. Yet the Law team only has one qualified solicitor. He will be very hard-pressed to pull this off.

The town and the university have a white elephant on the crest of their coat of arms. Sadly, this will prove to be another one to add to the list.

Anonymous

Has the university been granted authorisation from the SRA?

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