Pro Bono is an increasingly important part of legal education and practice that is both challenging and extremely rewarding. At the University of Law we have been committed to providing a Pro Bono service since 2001.
Please note that our activities vary from term to term (we recruit at the beginning of each term and run ad hoc opportunities throughout the year). We encourage students to sign up to the Employability Portal so that they are kept up to date with all upcoming opportunities and activities.
Here are details of some of the schemes we run in Newcastle:
Amnesty International Write for Rights
Students take part in a letter writing scheme on behalf of Amnesty International, culminating on International Human Rights Day in December, when hundreds of thousands of letters and emails are sent worldwide on behalf of perceived injustice. These letters aim to persuade government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion, stop the use of torture, commute death sentences, and end other human rights abuses.
Through this opportunity you will gain an insight into human rights issues and develop your objective legal drafting and communication skills.
Citizens Advice (CA)
This is an opportunity to become a volunteer with Citizens Advice. We currently have connections with the Newcastle and Gateshead sites.
This opportunity involves students attending Newcastle Coroners Court to observe an inquest and speak with the Senior Coroner about the role of a Coroner, career in law and how it led to becoming a coroner. The Senior Coroner will also provide an insight into the daily life of a coroner and how to deal with emotionally charged cases (due to the nature of all Hearings dealt with before the Coroners Court proceedings can be distressing and harrowing). This is a really fascinating insight into the Coroners Court process.
Family Law Advice Clinic & Triage (FLAC)
The triage opportunity will see you calling clients, obtaining information from them regarding their family law issue and then taking notes on the advice they are provided with by one of our specialist family lawyers during the telephone advice clinic. There are also opportunities to simply observe the advice clinic.
Legal information leaflets and fact sheets
This opportunity allows you to conduct research and draft legal information leaflets or fact sheets for charity partners that will help to assist their service users and volunteers.
National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV)
This organisation provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic abuse and violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.
The award-winning free service allows anyone who has recently suffered or been threatened with domestic abuse or violence to apply for an emergency court injunction, which can sometimes be issued within 24 hours.
Training will be provided as you are required to have knowledge of the law relating to domestic abuse and a working knowledge of the NCDV process.
Northumbria Victim & Witness Service (NVWS)
NVWS currently has a team of volunteers who provide support to victims of crime in Northumbria.
As an NVWS placement student you will:
- Provide support via telephone and have face to face engagement with victims of crime – in their own home or in an agreed location.
- Be a listening ear and provide emotional support and care, based on the individual needs of victims.
- Liaise with the NVWS Support Officers to ensure the right support services are in place and provide updates regarding information shared, support provided and outcomes achieved.
- Provide support that may range from a one-off contact to support through the whole criminal justice system and beyond.
- Develop your knowledge of local and national services, utilising and contributing new organisations to the NVWS directory of services where appropriate.
You will be provided with full core training to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide support in a wide range of cases including domestic and sexual violence once additional training has been undertaken.
Personal Support Unit (PSU)
The PSU is a small independent charity that offers free, independent and confidential non-legal support to litigants, their family members and other supporters, dealing with clients’ requests that vary from the simple to complex. The overall aim of the charity is to help litigants better understand the court process.
Schools Consent Project
The Schools Consent Project is a UK-based charity formed in 2014. The charity sends lawyers and law students into schools to deliver hour-long workshops on the legal definition of sexual consent and key sexual offences (such as sexual assault, rape and ‘sexting’).
The Schools Consent Project aims to normalise conversations about consent in order to challenge sexually harmful attitudes amongst young people as well as empowering students to give, withdraw or withhold their consent, and to call out non-consensual sexual activity in others.
Workshops are delivered to 11-18 year olds in the hope that early intervention and education will reduce rates of sexual violence and have been delivered to over 10,000 young people across the UK with a hugely positive response to date.
This programme will see you working in small groups with other students to research and prepare workshops on a legal topic appropriate to your allocated audience. We often work with external solicitors and organisations to prepare workshops on a range of legal topics which are then delivered in schools, community groups and partner charities.
This is a fantastic opportunity to put your legal knowledge into practice, and a chance to develop other skills like teamwork, legal research and advocacy.
Similar to Streetlaw and the Schools Consents Project, YOULaw works with schools and aims to equip students with a knowledge of the legal framework using interactive workshops on a range of legal topics. You will develop skills in public speaking and legal research, explaining the law in a clear and concise manner to non-lawyers.