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Legal Advice Centre

The Legal Advice Centre Progress into its 15th year

The Legal Advice Centre reflects on their successes and milestones from the past 15 years

Legal Advice Centre students taking part in the St Agnes Community project

The Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre (QMLAC) started as a free student law clinic in 2006. It offers student led, 1-2-1 client appointments followed by a written letter of legal advice. Students participating in the clinic, are supervised by volunteer barristers and solicitors from practice. The legal advice given spans a wide range. From landlord and tenant, family law and employment law advice, to more specialist projects like Pink Law which provides advice to the LGBT+ community and the Special Educational Needs clinic. Since the QMLAC began, it has provided advice to over 3000 clients and engaged over 1000 undergraduate law students.

In 2015 the Centre began to explore delivering Public Legal Education more broadly within the community. In particular, with a specific method of improving legal literacy for community groups called Street Law. The first Street Law project to launch, called SPITE for Schools, saw teams of undergraduate law students deliver bespoke workshops in east London secondary schools on the topic of image based sexual abuse (aka revenge porn). The special symbiotic relationship between law students learning by teaching secondary age students, demonstrates the impact and power of collaboration.

"We were deeply impressed by the presentation skills of the students and how well their content was organised. It was clear that they had spent some considerable amount of time with planning the session ... They were able to connect with our students and therefore made it all relevant to them" - Local Teacher

In 2018 the QMLAC launched another important local Street Law project called, I Am You. Mindful that research on widening participation encourages universities to reach out to primary aged students, this project sees law students design a series of four workshops for 9 and 10 year old students, to learn the principles of the Equality Act 2010 through play.

The age-old tension within clinical legal education about whether student learning or client / community need should lead projects and logistics is ever-present in all student law clinics. The QMLAC encourage students to join this debate, and think about the impact of their work. Teaching legal professional ethics and reflection help add depth to the learning experience and thus ensure clients receive a high class service. With lots of talk about skills and employability it is easy to forget the impact that pro bono work can have on individuals. As one client said;

"It's the little things that can help someone when they are facing the lowest time of their life. You guys no doubt have saved lives with people just knowing there is help out there for them and they are not alone".

2020 sees the Centre progress into its 15th year. The projects are more diverse than ever, with students delivering Street Law in prisons and representing clients in welfare benefit tribunals - however, a new challenge is on the horizon. The inevitable move towards an (at least partly) virtual clinic and projects will present challenges for staff, students, volunteer lawyers and clients alike. Given the dynamic and agile nature of clinical legal education, there will no doubt be a whole host of new opportunities for development and collaboration.

For more information visit the QMLAC website. You can also follow us on Twitter (@qmlac) and on LinkedIn. If you would like to volunteer please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at



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