How work in the community enriches legal education

This article was first published on King’s College London Spotlight on 4 May 2017. For more information, please contact

Cuts to the provision of civil legal aid in the UK over recent years have left many of the poorest and most vulnerable in society without access to legal advice and representation. Experiencing the complex reality of legal problems teaches students studying law a range of skills they would not gain in the lecture theatre and enhances their legal education.

Students in The Dickson Poon School of Law are helping to make justice a reality for the many rather than the few at the same time as gaining invaluable practical legal experience during their studies at King’s.

The student Pro Bono Society at King’s serves the public through fundraising and voluntary projects and offers students opportunities to engage in meaningful work with communities whilst enhancing their own CVs. Activities include providing training to other students in mediation, outreach to students from disadvantaged backgrounds interested in studying law and mentoring school students. The Society won the award for Best Pro Bono Activities at the Student Society Awards earlier this year.

‘Real impact’

Joanne Harper, President of the Pro Bono Society (2016-2017) said: ’The society committee sincerely takes to heart students’ request for opportunities to engage with leading practitioners in non-commercial fields, to improve their practical and professional skills, and to make a real impact in the wider community.’

The School has also set up the  King’s Legal Clinic, a free service offering legal advice to the public from law students at King’s College London. Under the supervision of a qualified lawyer, students working at the King’s Legal Clinic will interview clients, analyse their problem, research the issues and send them a written letter of advice. Because the students are being supervised throughout by a qualified lawyer, clients can be assured that the advice they receive will be to the same standard as if they had paid for that advice. Students studying law at King’s can undertake work at the Legal Clinic for credit as part of their degree course (from September 2017) or as an extra-curricular activity.

By spending time with clients and professional lawyers, our students gain first-hand experience of listening and responding to client problems. They learn skills which will put them in good stead in their future professional careers.

Director of Clinical Legal Education, Steve Levett

Serving the community

Critically, King’s Legal Clinic is providing a much-needed service by offering help to members of our community who might otherwise be unable to gain access to justice. As well as a general legal advice, the clinic offers other services that aren’t readily available in the community, including free confidential mediation service and street law – free, public legal education in the community.

King’s has also partnered with leading legal aid providers, ensuring we can help support the wide range of legal the community. Partners include Personal Support Unit (PSU) at the Royal Courts of Justice, as well as an immigration and asylum clinic with leading law firm Duncan Lewis.

The launch of the Legal Clinic demonstrates our determination to provide our students with the very best legal education. But just as importantly, it reflects the ethos of service to the wider community which underpins the work of King’s College London. 

Professor Gillian Douglas, Executive Dean of The Dickson Poon School of Law 

Find out more about what the King’s Legal Clinic can offer and how to get in touch here.

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