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Student Law Office Benefits Students and the Community

“While most undergraduate degree courses are predominantly theoretical in content, Northumbria University is running an innovative, practice-based undergraduate law degree. This course provides its graduates with a proven track record in practice that more traditional law degrees do not provide. It is something we would like to see emulated by many other law schools.”
Fair Access to Professional Careers: A progress report by the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty, 2012

Combining workplace learning with theory and skills is at the heart of the student experience at the Northumbria University Law School. Between 2008 and 2013 Law School students’ helped to secure more than £840,000 of compensation on behalf of more than 1,000 clients who would otherwise not have access to professional legal services.

Based on pedagogic research conducted and developed at Northumbria during the 1990s, the Law School has pioneered legal clinics as part of its curriculum. Students are given the opportunity to handle real legal cases supervised by their tutors and professors. Today Northumbria’s Student Law Office (SLO) provides a unique learning experience and is a major contributor to voluntary legal services in the region.

The SLO is a catalyst in the North East to encourage more law firms to become involved in pro bono work. In partnership with the national pro bono charity, LawWorks, it set up the Pro Bono Hub. It now works in collaboration with 10 regional law firms on Law School inspired pro bono projects, delivering benefits to the community as well as encouraging a culture of free legal advice in these firms.

The SLO also has close links with charities and community organisations. Through a partnership with Shelter, the homeless charity, students provide a national advice service to homeless and at risk clients, researching and advising on complex problems that Shelter’s advisors are unable to resolve. Working with the Newcastle Citizens Advice Bureau has resulted in a new form of training and accreditation for law students enabling them to become Gateway advisors.

Northumbria University’s Law School is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for clinical legal education. It regularly hosts fact-finding visits from MPs, government ministers and professional regulators as well as educators across the world that wish to set up similar facilities for their students. To date, student law offices based on our model have been established in countries across Europe, in Japan, in Bangladesh, in the USA and most recently in Uganda.

Click here to watch The Queen and Prince Phillip presenting the Vice-Chancellor and Kevin Kerrigan with the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the outstanding community work of Northumbria's Student Law Office.

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