#WorkTogether: an Update from the 2017 Symposium on Col...

#WorkTogether: an Update from the 2017 Symposium on Collaborative Working

Symposium

On Wednesday 24 May 2017, in partnership with the Law Centres Network, Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre (‘the Centre’) played host to a range of external guests from up and down the country, from Cardiff to Norwich. Guests included representatives from various advice organisations, including universities, Law Centres, legal charities, and other members of the pro bono community. Everybody present had gathered to discuss ideas to support the increasingly important practice of collaborative working between University Law Clinics, Law Centres and advice agencies.

Jenny Chapman, Deputy Dean of Nottingham Law School and Compliance Officer for Legal Practice for the Centre, began the day with a poignant discussion of the mutual benefits of collaborative working within the advice sector. As she rightly noted, ‘one important factor in the Centre’s growth has been our collaboration with other agencies’. It should be noted that this includes many local advice agencies, for example Broxtowe Citizen’s Advice, the Personal Support Unit, Nottingham Law Centre and many more.

Lucy Blackburn, Senior Lecturer at Lancashire Law School and Nick Johnson, Director of the Centre, the latter joined by Nottingham Law School Senior Lecturer Pamela Henderson and Professor Jane Ching, led interesting morning sessions, which encouraged contributions from attendees and opened up the floor to some thought-provoking discussions on the issues at hand. Lucy emphasised the importance of collaborative working amongst the advice sector to ensure the engagement of our students, noting that ‘if we do more collaborative working we will expose students to more injustices – surely that will result in greater engagement.’

The afternoon sessions were led by Cathy Gallagher, Solicitors Regulation and Pro Bono Development at Law Centres Network, and Faye Deverell, Senior Supervising Solicitor at the Centre, the latter joined by Broxtowe Citizens’ Advice. The discussions looked at innovation in practice and partnership and what is needed to form a good working partnership. The day ended with an open floor discussion of a variety of issues that had not been addressed in the led sessions.

The main points of discussions from the day were as follows:

  • Whether universities should provide financial support to the advice sector. An anonymised survey was suggested to establish what support is presently provided by universities.
  • An update on the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (‘SQE’), with particularly focussed discussion on how this will impact student involvement within university law clinics and advice agencies.
  • The possibility of developing a bank of shared resources. This would involve establishing what is out there already, particularly in terms of training models and precedent documents for university law clinics. It was suggested that a Working Party may be needed to draw together this hub of resources for all to use, which could then be made available on the new CLEO website. The website could also host an online forum for questions and discussions.
  • It was suggested that anonymous data should be collected to find out what Law Centres and advice agencies are currently doing nationally, in particular what projects they are running and what university law clinics they are working with. It was felt that this shared knowledge would allow other universities and advice agencies to consider ways to collaboratively work together.

Overall, the event was a huge success, which facilitated many productive discussions on collaborative working, and it was great to hear about so many different collaborations across the sector. We would like to offer a big thank you to everyone who supported and attended the event, and we look forward to the next one…. watch this space!


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