I’ve just completed my first year as an undergraduate on the LLB program at King’s College London. On arrival during my orientation week, I was met with a plethora of different opportunities the university had to offer and was ultimately sold after listening to a presentation a student working with the Legal Clinic delivered.
As a fresh Law student studying abroad, it is axiomatic I came with the intention of wanting to participate in all of the opportunities possible and this meant signing up to almost anything which was of interest to me (pro tip: sign up for everything before the uni work starts piling up!).
The Legal Clinic provides several different volunteer roles which include being a student adviser, student administrator, or both. First-years are likely to have less experience with substantive Law at the beginning and as a result we are only able to apply for the role as a student administrator.
As a summary, the role includes working with guidance from qualified, professional lawyers to take a note of client enquiries, ensuring all of their information is suitable for the clinic to take on the case, and following up with clients wherever necessary. Admittedly, after being accepted to take on the role, I was unquestionably excited to start but at the same time a little anxious as I had never actually dealt with real-life clients before.
In this case, even though each student received training prior to beginning the position, I felt it was only once I started the practice itself I was able to develop confidence in communicating with clients. As a whole, working for a clinic which provides free legal service to almost everyone from the general public meant that I was faced with situations where I had to communicate with people from different backgrounds to my own.
Arguably one of the most difficult scenarios I was in was when I was following up with a client in order to draw some missing information from him. Whilst speaking to him, I noticed this case was of sensitive and personal value to him and I had to be wary not to push him too strongly into revealing facts about his case which he perhaps didn’t want to disclose. Being in this situation, in particular, was a big learning experience for me because it was the first time that I had to alter the ‘script’ (which includes a guideline of the questions to ask all clients) in a sense and tailor it to his particular scenario instead.
Having dealt with that not only boosted my confidence within the role at the clinic but also pushed me to enhance my quick-thinking and communicative skills which I believe are essential towards the study of Law. The differing natures of each case we deal with every time we walk into the clinic, whether it be a family, housing, or general inquiry, means that we must adapt to the various circumstances in order to properly succeed in the role.
By studying Law for the first time simultaneously, I was undeniably able to gain an understanding of the difference between Law in theory and in practice as well as put together the knowledge that I had just learnt into better understanding the cases I was dealing with.
Overall, for anyone who’s looking to gain exposure to the legal sector, this role is perfect in doing so.
Written by Pasha Mirpuri (upcoming LLB Law Year 2)