13/10/2020

University of Bolton’s free Legal Advice Centre deals with 200 cases in first year

The service was launched at the end of September 2020 and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, continued to operate throughout the summer to help local people with a wide range of issues.

Ian Bowden, Lecturer in Law at the University of Bolton, who is also a qualified Solicitor Advocate, said: “Our brilliant students worked hard through the summer under difficult lockdown conditions to carry on helping members of the Bolton community, many of whom have needed advice on matters specifically arising from the pandemic.

“We have been advising people about relationships, family matters and employment issues, all as a direct result of Covid-19.”

The centre was set up against a backdrop of reduced access to legal advice, which has created a large gap at a time when more people than ever need legal protection.

It initially had a physical base in the University’s Institute of Management building in Bolton town centre, but since lockdown its operation has been entirely online. Meetings with clients have been held via video conferences.

Other topics raised included issues around property, commercial, negligence, wills and probate, tax, criminal, contract, environmental and immigration law.

Ian said: “The students gain tremendous benefits from this. People often need legal advice but don’t know where to turn. The centre gives them an option and it is clear it has quickly become a valued service to the local community.”

Third year Law student Terry Cokell, who is due to graduate next year, described the Centre as a “great service”.

Terry, aged 38 from Rossendale, decided to pursue a Law degree to improve her career prospects after working in a string of low-paid jobs since she left school.

She said: “I want to use Law to help people and make a difference and that is why the Legal Advice Centre is so important.

“I feel like I have helped clients who had nowhere else to turn. I worked over the summer while home schooling my children and although it has been challenging, I found the Centre work has been a really good distraction from all the bad news about Covid.”

Tuesday Holder, aged 29, who lives in Bolton town centre, contacted the Legal Advice Centre earlier this year and described the advice and service she had received as “amazing”.

She said: “Everyone I have dealt with has been friendly, approachable and efficient and very clear about what options I have moving forward.”

An online portal, where members of the public can register their legal enquiry can be found at www.bolton.ac.uk/legal-advice-centre/

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