Pro Bono Services

CEPLER's Pro Bono Group enables students to get involved in a range of activities that benefit some of the most vulnerable people in the local community. Participation in the Group also allows students to develop their knowledge of how the law operates in the real world and helps them improve their legal research, public speaking and client care skills. The Pro Bono Group was established in 2008 and CEPLER's links to the law and legally-related professions have provided scope for expanding the range of projects available to students and the community.

Students studying on the Birmingham Campus

We offer the following services:

Birmingham Free Legal Advice Group 

Birmingham FLAG is a free legal advice clinic, providing students with opportunities to work on real cases in areas as diverse as family law, employment, probate, property and general litigation. FLAG in run in collaboration with No5 Chambers and Top 100 law firm Mills & Reeve LLP, which has won national recognition for its commitment to pro bono work.

Students benefit from the help and guidance of experienced solicitors and barristers as they develop their interviewing, client care, research and drafting skills. FLAG also gives our volunteers an active role in responding to legal aid cuts and helping to resolve pressing legal problems.

Click here to visit the FLAG page

Streetlaw

The Pro Bono Group's first initiative, this involves student teams presenting to community groups, schools and public sector organisations and agencies on a wide variety of legal education topics.

Click here to find out more.

SIFA Fireside drop-in clinic

This homelessness and alcoholism charity provides support to vulnerable people in the local community through a range of invaluable services, to which CEPLER has added a fortnightly Street Law-style presentation and Q&A session.

Students research and prepare presentations, under the review of specialist solicitors, to give service users a better understanding of their legal rights.

Personal Support Unit (PSU)

Based in the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, PSU provides essential emotional and practical support to people going through litigation without legal representation.

Student volunteers contribute through helping indivduals to formulate coherent statement, complete forms and by providing moral support in difficult circumstances. This also gives our volunteers a window into the court process.

Environmental Law Foundation (ELF)

This is a sister-project to FLAG, providing a free advice service by appointment in the specialist areas of Planning and Environmental Law. ELF was established as a national network to provide expert advice and referral to individuals and communities through university law clinics.

Enquiries are processed through ELF and appointments are supervised by barristers from No5 Chambers.

Birmingham Community Law Centre

A new project for 2014-15, students assist solicitors from the local Law Centre as they advise clients on matters of immigration and employment law.  This involves interviewing clients and assisting solicitors with case work as they help some of the most vulnerable people in the region.

Student volunteers are based in the BCLC offices, gaining hands-on experience of practice in a busy advice centre.

International Student Advisory Service (ISAS)

ISAS is based on campus and offers advice to international students. ISAS advisors present a series of detailed workshops on aspects of immigration law. They also facilitate a small number of placements, giving students the opportunity to shadow staff and gain practical experience in the complexities of immigration law, dealing with areas such as visas, family and welfare law.

Casework and Research Assistance Group (CRAG)

CRAG undertakes specific casework and research tasks on behalf of external organisations as and when they commission our assistance.

Past projects have included: compiling and revising a signpost list to other pro bono advice agencies in the region on behalf of the Birmingham Law Society; supporting No5 Chambers with case research for publication; and providing assistance for a US lawyer on a death penalty case.

CPD

All Pro Bono Group activities generate CEPLER Professional Development credits. CPD is our employability scheme which recognises and rewards commitment to extra curricular endeavour. Click here to find out more.

How to get Involved

Students at Birmingham Law School can get involved in all areas of Pro Bono activity. To find out more about these opportunities please visit the student involvement page.

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 l.thomas@bham.ac.uk / 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.

 

Further information

Further information about the Birmingham Law School Pro Bono Group is available here.