The Legal Advice Centre (LAC) at Queen Mary University of London has received a grant of £90,000 to expand qLegal, a community initiative which provides free legal advice to entrepreneurs and technology start-ups.
The programme, launched in 2013, has thus far focused primarily on businesses based in East London and the Shoreditch 'start-up hub'. Expert advice and guidance is provided by postgraduate law students under the supervision of legal professionals from collaborating law firms, and from academic staff at QMUL’s School of Law.
This latest investment from the Legal Education Foundation will see the establishment of a new national programme called Creating Tomorrow’s Commercial Lawyers.
Ian Walden, Professor of Information and Communications Law at QMUL and academic lead for qLegal, said: “The qLegal programme has achieved an enormous amount in its first year, and this very welcome investment will allow us to expand our services beyond the Greater London area. That’s critically important because it means that we can continue to support vulnerable start-ups through the early years - a period in which many businesses require otherwise expensive legal advice."
"The programme is also invaluable for our students in the context of their training. Working with early stage businesses provides ‘real-world’ experience of commercial law as well as networking opportunities with major law firms," said Professor Walden.
As part of its expansion, qLegal will shortly roll out a new series of specialist training sessions and skills seminars for entrepreneurs, with a focus on technology, commercial law and common legal pitfalls faced by start-ups.
Patrick Cahill, qLegal Coordinator, said: “The harsh reality is that a third of new businesses fail in the first three years. Part of our mission is to support and nurture new companies through this formative and often difficult period. We’re in the early stages of agreeing strategic partnerships with similarly placed universities, so that our services can be adopted and delivered in “start-up hotspots” across the UK."
The Queen Mary University of London Legal Advice Centre (LAC) provides a free, accessible, client centred advice service to the public. We act as a first-tier advice agency: providing preliminary advice on the strength of the client’s case, the processes that need to be followed, and an explanation of complex legal issues. Clients come to the advice centre from a wide variety of backgrounds and present a wide range of legal issues.
The Legal Advice Centre was opened by its Patron, Lord Goldsmith, in 2006. In 2013-14 we have more than 90 law students volunteering as Student Advisers; in addition, we have more than 100 solicitors who volunteer as Student Supervisors and 15 students who provide administrative support.