Pupils and barristers at Becket Chambers are encouraged to use their legal skills to benefit those who would otherwise find it difficult to access the legal system. This could be by way of giving free legal advice or representing a party to proceedings without fee. It brings numerous benefits, not only to the clients but also to the barristers, as some of our Members explain.
“I volunteer with the Kent Law Clinic offering free advice sessions on a range of civil and family matters. I usually see between 3-5 clients every session. The majority of clients are very concerned with their lack of knowledge of the legal system and my advice will often encompass practical points such as explaining court procedure and what forms should be completed.
I have volunteered with various free legal advice organisations throughout university, law school, employment and now whilst at Becket Chambers. I think it is important to give back and help others who are not fortunate enough to be able to afford legal advice which can be very costly.
Free legal advice clinics are also a great opportunity for students to get involved, be exposed to real life legal issues and learn from those in practice.”
Christian Fox volunteers with a national charity, Advocate, which matches barristers with those needing representation:
“I signed up as I feel the justice system is not equal and does not provide access to those who often most need it. It is also advantageous to my career as I am able to work in areas that are not those of my normal practice, and may work with others who are more senior.”
Holly Coates has volunteered at a range of free clinics:
“I have always been passionate about ensuring access to justice; it is, after all, the cornerstone of our legal system. Since LASPO and the removal of almost all legal aid from family law cases, lawyers have had to work harder to ensure that the legal system is accessible to all.
As a junior barrister, I was involved in a number of cases with the Kent Law Clinic, one of which culminated in a contested three-day hearing in a personal injury case. It gave me the chance to be involved right from the beginning and was an experience that I gained a lot from.
In more recent years I have focussed on providing family law advice through the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Their Free Family Advice clinic allows members of the public to obtain information that, sadly, might otherwise be outside of their reach. I’m sure most lawyers feel like they want to do more for the clients they meet, but it is hoped that the scheme helps them overcome the initial hurdles in resolving the problem that they are facing”.
For more information, ask one of our Members or contact:
Kent Law Clinic: https://www.kent.ac.uk/law/kent-law-clinic
Citizens Advice Bureau: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/canterbury-district/