Title: Pro Bono Work at Birmingham Law School
Kam Sandar – Student Pro Bono Group
The University of Birmingham has a long standing tradition of giving something back to their local community. The Pro Bono Group more or less encapsulates that we have three centres of activity within the group itself. We’ve got the Birmingham Free Legal Advice Group, which is a law clinic, the Street Law programme and the lecture series programme as well.
Free Legal Advice Group
For FLAG we’ve partnered up with Mills & Reeve which is a local law firm in order to help people access legal advice that can’t otherwise do so. Students get involved by drafting a letter of advice for that client, this is checked by Mills & Reeve and then sent out to the client. We cover a wide range of areas from family, bankruptcy, insolvency, mental health, housing just to name a few.
The lecture series brings in prominent speakers from Pro Bono Groups into the School. It’s aimed at helping students understand that there are other opportunities available to them out there after their Law degree. Examples of past speakers that we’ve had are from the African Prisons Project, Amicus who work very strongly with people in death row and Reprive who we’ve got a graduate coming in in a couple of weeks time to talk about torture in Pakistan and Guantanamo Bay prisons.
The Street Law project is aimed at Law students interacting with the local community, schools, colleges etc on different legal points such as criminal law, housing and property rights.
Pro Bono offers a wide range of opportunities to students, not only does it enhance your skills with clients in the legal world but it gives you invaluable contacts that you should be able to use when you go out into the world of work. This can be seen by the fact that previous committee members have gone on to gain training contracts with Allen & Overy, Mills & Reeves and to also work with Human Rights Organisations such as Reprive.
Myself within the Pro Bono Group, I have held two posts within the Committee. The first one within its inaugural year, where I was the Lecture Series Co-ordinator. This entailed me getting in contact with the external speakers, bringing them in, organising rooms etc. This year I am the Student Co-ordinator. This means that I oversee the running of the whole group and ensure that everything is running as it should be.
The group has been really well received, not only by the local community but also by the students. They like the fact that they can get information about other career opportunities that are available to them