The pro bono legal services provided by staff and students at The College of Law in Chester have received a major recognition from a local charity group.
The Cheshire Advice Partnership has awarded its Mark of Quality to the College’s varied schemes to provide free legal guidance to members of the local community.
Run by the charities Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureaux and Shelter, the Cheshire Advice Partnership aims to make advice for residents of Cheshire more accessible, particularly the most vulnerable.
The College of Law in Chester’s award-winning pro bono work is aimed at people from the local area and wider North West region, who may otherwise be unable to afford access to legal advice. Students work in close partnership with College staff and qualified solicitors to provide guidance.
Schemes include a Legal Advice Centre, which helps with a range of issues from family matters, neighbour disputes and consumer wrangles to employment problems and probate queries.
College Pro Bono Coordinator Heather Smith (centre) supervises students working in the Legal Advice Centre.
Another popular service is the Chester Employment Rights Advice Line (CHERAL) for any employee with an employment-related problem, while the pioneering Contact 4 Kids service supports family members struggling to maintain contact with children during family breakdowns.
The scheme helps by providing free information and legal advice, alleviating the fear of legal procedures and, when necessary, supporting people through the court process. It is open to parents having difficulty in establishing or maintaining contact with their children, as well as grandparents, same sex couples, civil partners and legal guardians.
During the 2010/2011 academic year nearly 250 College students volunteered for the pro bono programme at Chester and provided help to nearly 50 people.
Heather Smith, Pro Bono Coordinator and Supervising Solicitor at The College of Law, Chester said: “These schemes allow students to get experience in dealing with real cases and also help the local community. Students gain valuable first-hand experience of client relationships, legal research and drafting while at the same time benefitting people, who may otherwise not have access to legal guidance. We’re very proud of our pro bono achievements and to gain the Cheshire Advice Partnership’s Mark of Quality is a welcome recognition of our work."
Amy Jones, Quality Assurance Co-ordinator from the Cheshire West Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “We are delighted that The College of Law has achieved the Cheshire Advice Partnership Mark of Quality for Information. This demonstrates its continued commitment to partnership working, helping people protect their rights, supporting local communities and delivering advice and providing information to a high quality standard, often to those in the greatest need.”
Anyone wishing to make an appointment at the Legal Advice Centre should call 01483 216848 while the number for CHERAL is 01483 216044 and the number for Contact 4 Kids is 01483 216066.
Further information from Lucy Wray, Press Officer, The College of Law on 01483 216072 (firstname.lastname@example.org)