Birmingham Law School Pro Bono Group Privacy Notice

This privacy notice provides information about how the University uses the personal data we collect where you engage with our Pro Bono Group. It supplements the page on our website ‘Data Protection – How the University Uses Your Data’.

The Birmingham Law School Pro Bono Group is part of the Law School at the University of Birmingham.  It runs several pro bono projects which involve current law students giving free legal advice, assistance and/or information to members of the public without charge.  Much of this work is done under the supervision of volunteer lawyers from law firms and barristers chambers.

Please read the information set out below carefully before requesting assistance from the Pro Bono Group. Please feel free to contact Linden Thomas, Senior Lecturer and In-house Solicitor at / 0121 414 5780 if you do not understand any part of the information, or to ask a friend or relative or other person known to you or otherwise (such as a translator) to assist you with the information. 

How does this privacy notice relate to other privacy notices?

If you are also a current student or alumni of the University of Birmingham then our ‘Current Students’ or ‘Alumni and supporters’ privacy notices will also apply to you.

Sometimes another organisation will also be a data controller of your personal data for example, one of the partner law firms or barristers chambers that we work, that may provide supervision for our students when they are working on your case.  Those organisations should have their own privacy notices explaining how they use your data. 

What personal data will be processed?

If you approach us to ask us for advice, we will process biographical and contact details, as well as information that you provide to us about your legal query such as the problems you are facing and the other people involved.

Depending on your query we might need to ask you for and use information about you which is of a sensitive nature, for example information about your health and finances. 

What is the purpose of the processing?

We will use your information to help you in connection with the legal problem you have come to see us about. We will also use it in the first instance in order to determine whether your query is a matter that we are able to assist you with. For example, some legal queries will be too complex for a student law clinic to advise on, or we may find that we, or one of our partner firms, has already provided advice to another party involved in your query and are therefore unable to take on your case due to a conflict of interest.

You do not have to provide us with any information, or give your consent for us to share your personal information. However our ability to act on your behalf might be affected if you do not.  

What is the legal basis of the processing?

Normally, we process your data with explicit consent. Sometimes we do so because it is necessary for:

  • The performance of our agreement to provide you with legal advice or in order to take steps at your request before entering into an agreement with you to provide legal advice.  This will include:
  • Determining whether your query is one that we are able to assist you with;
  • Determining whether we can find a volunteer lawyer to supervise your case;
  • Providing legal advice and assistance to you;
  • Compliance with a legal obligation (for example, identity checks under money laundering legislation) or regulatory obligation (for example, reporting to Solicitors’ Regulation Authority);
  • The performance of tasks we carry out in the public interest (for example, the educational benefits for our students of giving legal advice);
  • For the purposes of an external organisation’s legitimate interests (for example, to enable your access to external services such as the supervision from our partner law firms and chambers).

We will only process your special category data with your explicit consent or if it is necessary:

  • For the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims;
  • Very occasionally, when it is needed to protect your or another person’s vital interests and you are not capable of giving your consent (for example, in an emergency);
  • If it is in the substantial public interest.

Who will your personal data be shared with?

Within the University, your data is shared with only those University staff and students who need to be able to access it for the purpose of running our pro bono services and advising you on your case.

Before we agree to take on your case we may need to share your information (including special category personal information, for example relating to your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership) with the law firms and barristers chambers that assist with our cases in order to try and find a volunteer lawyer to supervise your case.  We will inform you in advance where we need to convey information about you to a third party and will only share information about you where we have obtained your prior consent either verbally or in writing.  Your information may also be shared with third parties:

  • Where you have explicitly requested or consented to the personal information being shared with a named third party;
  • Where disclosure of personal data is required by law and where such disclosure is not protected by professional legal privilege and does not first require consent to be obtained;
  • As part of audit or quality checks on our practice carried out by external firms or organisations. They may wish to audit/quality check your file and related papers for this purpose. It is a specific requirement imposed by us that these external firms or organisations fully maintain confidentiality in relation to any files and papers which are audited/quality checked by them;
  • Where it is required by our regulators the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Bar Standards Board; and/or
  • Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 which imposes a duty on lawyers to report certain information to the authorities, where, for example, it seems that some assets in your case were derived from a crime.  If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so.

If we need to obtain any information about you from a third party for the purpose of assisting you we will only do so once you have provided us with your consent.

We ensure we have appropriate data sharing agreements in place before sharing your personal data with any other data controllers.

Your personal data is shared as is necessary, on a considered and confidential basis, with several external organisations which assist with processing your information.  These organisations act on our behalf in accordance with our instructions and do not process your data for any purpose over and above what we have asked them to do.  We make sure we have appropriate contracts in place with them.  Sometimes your personal data is processed by these organisations outside the European Economic Area (for example, because they use a cloud-based system with servers based outside the EEA), and if so, we make sure that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure the confidentiality and security of your personal data.

We do not share your data with external organisations for marketing their products or services. We do not sell your personal data to third parties under any circumstances, or permit third parties to sell on the data we have shared with them.

How long is your data kept?

We will only keep your personal information for as long as necessary, which will depend on the type of information held and the reason for holding it. 

We will keep information about you only for as long as we need in order to:

  • comply with any legal requirement concerning your information;
  • be able to respond in the event that a complaint is made;
  • ensure that information about you is accurate and up to date; and,
  • for the purposes of research and statistical analysis.

Where you make an enquiry with us but we are not able to take on your case, we will not keep your details for longer than 12 months.

Where we have given you legal advice, we will have to retain some basic personal information about you (such as your name, address, basic details about the nature of your query and the other parties involved) indefinitely, in order to comply with regulatory requirement that we do not take on any cases for other clients in the future where there might be a conflict of interests with your case. We will delete all other information seven years after our letter of advice is sent to you. 

Your rights in relation to your data

Details about your rights are set out on the website page ‘Data Protection – How the University Uses Your Data’.  This also explains how to ask any questions you may have about how your personal data is used, exercise any of your rights or complain about the way your data is being handled.