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A free Legal Advice Centre operated by law students from the University of Bolton is in the running for a prestigious award just seven months after it was launched.
The judges for the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Awards 2020 have shortlisted the Centre for ‘Best New Pro Bono activity’.
The Awards, run by LawWorks with the support of the Attorney General, The Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP, recognise and celebrate the outstanding pro bono work undertaken by law schools and law students across the UK.
The Legal Advice Centre is based in the University’s Institute of Management (IoM) building in Great Moor Street in the town centre and was launched at the end of September 2019.
It 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.
Up to March, the centre had proved to be a tremendous success and had received almost 200 enquiries.
Those requiring help were dealt with by the team of student advisors, supervised by Ian Bowden, Lecturer in Law at the university, who is also a qualified Solicitor Advocate and his colleague Zaman Kala, an experienced member of the lecturing team in the School of Law, who also has previous experience in the legal profession.
Topics raised included issues around family, employment, property, commercial, negligence, wills and probate, tax, criminal, contract, environmental and immigration law.
Ian said: “This is incredible news. I am so pleased for everyone at the University of Bolton who has worked hard to help make this much-needed Legal Advice Centre a success in such a short space of time.”
The University of Bolton is competing against the following institutions in the ‘Best new pro bono activity’: Birmingham City University Welfare Benefits Clinic, Birmingham City University; University of Bristol Law Clinic Inquest Team, University of Bristol Law Clinic and Hertfordshire Law Clinic, Hertfordshire Law School.
Because of the UK lockdown there will be no physical ceremony this year, but the winners will be announced on May 13, with a message of congratulations from the Attorney-General, the Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP.
She said: “It is fantastic to see so many students across the UK working hard to give back to their communities by providing pro bono advice to those in need and I want to congratulate you on your efforts.”
With the restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Legal Advice Centre’s approach has had to be refined.
Ian said: “The current health emergency is a testing situation for us all and has led to specific issues in regards to matters of family, employment and contract law.
“To ensure that we can continue to help those in need we have continued our appointment service which is now based online.”
An online portal, where members of the public can register their legal enquiry can be found at www.bolton.ac.uk/legal-advice-centre/