BPP looks to secure welfare benefits for society’s ‘most vulnerable’ with new student-staffed pro bono clinic

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By Thomas Connelly on

In London and Leeds

BPP Law School is looking to help address the surge in demand for welfare rights advice with the launch of a new pro bono clinic staffed by law students.

The Welfare Rights Legal Advice Clinic will offer legal advice and support in a range of areas from applying for welfare benefits, benefit sanctions, to making appeals to tribunals.

Law students will provide the legal firepower at clinics based in London and Leeds, and under the supervision of Pamela Lalbachan, a qualified solicitor specialising in welfare law.

BPP says it hopes to reach society’s “most vulnerable” who have been left without legal support due to swingeing cuts to legal aid.

Lalbachan, who previously worked for South West London Law Centres, a network of legal advice clinics which provide free legal support on social justice issues, commented:

“While free legal advice can already be found in much needed organisations like Citizens Advice Bureaus and Law Centres, the Welfare Rights Legal Advice Clinic hopes to offer support to existing services by drawing on its solicitors’ and barristers’ expertise to supervise BPP law students who give their time and skills to supporting the community.”

She continued: “Students are very keen to assist in community work that can make a difference while at the same gaining valuable practical experience in the profession they have chosen for their future careers.”

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This isn’t the law school’s first foray into free legal support. In 2015 it was awarded the Advice Quality Standard, a quality mark for independent advice organisations in the voluntary sector, for its pro bono efforts, and has since gone on to launch a range of free advice initiatives including one aimed at tackling rogue landlords.

And it’s not just BPP. Law schools across the country have been ramping up their pro bono efforts, with the likes of City Law School, King’s College London, Bolton, Salford and Hertfordshire universities all launching new initiatives in the past year or so. Meanwhile, a survey undertaken last year found that of the 78 law schools that responded, all but one offered pro bono opportunities for students, while 75% said they planned to increase their existing free advice offerings.

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