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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Queen Mary initiatives contribute to research on making debt-related communications more effective

Two Queen Mary students joined lawtech start-up, Amplified Global and debt advice charity, StepChange as they presented their Mixed Messages report at the Financial Conduct Authority. The students had taken part in qLegal-led interdisciplinary research for Amplified Global in support of their mission to improve legal and financial communication, and in furtherance of Queen Mary’s SKETCH initiative.

Holly Warner and psychology student, Ella Cullen at the launch of the report at the Financial Conduct Authority

The team at Amplified Global were keen to give Queen Mary students an opportunity to work across disciplines in a project that would help the students’ employability and ultimately benefit people who receive debt advice.  Via qLegal’s Externship and Consultancy Projects programmes, students of law, linguistics, psychology and computer science worked together to show how both the content and the presentation of debt advice communications could have an impact on how the advice would be received.

Mixed teams of postgrad law and linguistics students were recruited as externs to investigate the content of debt advice communications. The challenge was finding a way to make the communications understandable to readers who are vulnerable and/or under emotional stress while ensuring those providing the advice remain legally compliant.

A further 14 students across law, psychology, linguistics and tech focused on how changing the presentation of the content could also improve levels of understanding and engagement. These students were trained in Design Thinking and conducted desk research, interviews and user-testing with students over two semesters before presenting their findings and recommendations to Amplified Global and StepChange.

On 15 November, linguistics student, Holly Warner and psychology student, Ella Cullen presented at the launch of the report at the Financial Conduct Authority.  The event was attended by members of The Treasury and the FCA, lawyers, creditors and debt advice organisations, as well as members of the qLegal team.

Following the project, Holly was taken on by Amplified Global as a full-time employee straight after graduation, continuing the work she started on her externship. Ella enjoyed the research so much she changed her career plan and is now studying for a PhD at Queen Mary in this field. All the students commented on how much they had enjoyed working for a worthwhile cause and learning from each other. In their own words,

‘I’d had experience in internships when I was an undergraduate but I didn’t get anything like the real insights [as I did on this project] of what it’s like to work to time’

‘The teamworking, especially interdisciplinary, took us to a whole other level of coordination and communication.’

‘I want to emphasise this was a really cool project!’



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