I applied to volunteer with King’s Legal Clinic working on its Evidence & Strategic Litigation research project in the previous academic year. The opportunity to take part in research based volunteering, especially within the context of evidence laws and case construction – an area that is at the core of all legal work – was an opportunity I could not pass up. We were set up in pairs, asked to look into a particular practice and collect as much information on how it works as we could. I was assigned to research asset deprivation powers that local councils have and are using on the elderly going into social care. This is an issue that many, sometimes unwittingly, fall into and it has been reported on by AgeUK and other charities/institutions.
As part of what we did, we submitted multiple Freedom of Information requests to local councils, we got in touch with charities that cater for the elderly, we ran through blogs and social media posts to find out more about what people who have been affected have gone through, and we contacted local news outlets that have reported on the matter. Our end product was a report that we submitted to the project leader that included experiential evidence that we collected from the personal accounts that people have shared, policy materials evidence as reported by the local councils, and statistical evidence on the numbers of people the power was used on and how much the councils obtained as a result.
The experience that I got working with the legal clinic on this project is something you do not get enough of throughout your time in law school. Beyond the ‘issue-rule-result’ format, I got to see how the issue comes to light and is found in the first place. I learned what it takes in terms of research to be able to successful show how the issue you identify works, who it is affecting and what could be done differently. I was able to understand a lot more what it is like putting together the right information and the type of information it takes for a case to come together. Research based volunteering experience is something I definitely would recommend all law students to do as part of their studies – they’ll be able to learn a lot more about how work in the legal sector is.
Salman Shaeen, LLB Graduate