Monthly clinics staffed by trainees and students
The tie-up sees trainees from the firm’s Birmingham office provide pro-bono advice on a range of corporate and commercial matters, including contracts, corporate structure, IP and data protection, through the law school’s existing Small Business Advice Line (SBAL).
The scheme works with ULaw students making initial contact with potential clients, gathering information of their legal issue and arranging appointments. The firm’s rookies then attended virtual monthly clinics alongside a supervising qualified lawyer from Shoomsmiths, with the aim of providing general legal advice on the client’s position and their options going forward.
The hope is students will gain valuable, real-life legal experience drafting attendance notes and discussing legal matters with trainees and qualified lawyers from the firm.
The idea for the firm to work with ULaw was the brainchild of trainees Ed Morris, Sophie Warren, Zoe Evans, Manisha Punj and Isabella Andrade.
“In such difficult times for so many small and start-up businesses, it has been so rewarding to support, advise and make a difference to those who need it,” Morris said. “I am so proud to be a part of this new initiative and appreciate the support of the university and Shoosmiths.”
Jenny Seymour, pro bono co-ordinator at ULaw added:
“We are very excited to be working with the team at Shoosmiths on this initiative. The university is committed to providing practical experience to our students to prepare them for successful future careers. This is a great opportunity for them to gain insight into the legal profession and to give back by helping small and start-up businesses.”
ULaw isn’t the only law school to facilitate free legal support to local communities. BPP University Law School runs a number of pro bono projects — one of which scooped an award earlier this year — while Nottingham Law School offers free legal services across a range of practice areas through its ‘teaching law firm’. Other universities to launch initiatives include City Law School, King’s College London, Bolton, Salford and Hertfordshire.