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Community legal outreach collaboration Keele (Clock) - Jane Krishnadas


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Presentation at HEA Social Sciences learning and teaching summit 'Engaging legal education'.

As part of the Higher Education Academy’s commitment to support strategic development within disciplines, this summit event provided the opportunity to bring together an expert audience to discuss and plan actions on a key area of our work.

This presentation forms part of a blog post which can be accessed via:

For further details of HEA Social Sciences work relating to 'Supporting the future of legal education' please see

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Community legal outreach collaboration Keele (Clock) - Jane Krishnadas

  1. 1. Research, Education and Innovation: Community Legal Outreach Collaboration, Keele (CLOCK): “The Community Legal Companion”
  2. 2. Research; Reclaiming Rights; grassroots legal strategies (forthcoming Pluto Press). • The 'Community Legal Outreach Collaboration, Keele' was initiated as a development of our longterm research and education relations with community partners which have evolved since my research interests in rights in reconstructing communities, inspired through a Faculty 'Alternative Globalisations' research series, which committed to ‘Our view of the University as an inclusive space, open to different voices, embedded in the problems of the community which surrounds it, and facilitative of a genuine exchange of ideas between campaigners, practitioners and academics from the local to global contexts’ hosted a national workshop with our key partners, CAB, Savana, Arch and Brighter Futures: 'Local Voices in Global Times'.
  3. 3. Education • The development of the community based research collaboration provided a practical framework to create our first 'Law in Action' curriculum an elective module co-designed with Rosie Harding,for our second year students to visit and design with our partners, Savana, CAB, Brighter Futures, Aspire and VoE. Drawing upon a range of community legal scholarship and applying this to their learning within the community partner organisation, the students conducted a research project which they then presented as a community legal education project to the local school, Madeley High School.
  4. 4. Keele and Partners, Community Legal Education Aspire, Social Housing Citizens Advice and Embrace; aslyum seeking s.4. Arch and Voices of Experience; Intimate Violence Brighter Futures, Researching:Homelessness and Complex needs, mental health and the women’s project Savana; Intimate Violence, designing youth focused information on sexual violence
  5. 5. Reflective Learning • “I chose this module because it stood out as different: it seemed the most ‘hands on’ module which would involve the least robotic learning. I also liked the fact that we would put our education to use outside of Keele; applying it to real life situations and working on a community project. It was fascinating that international students in the class were interested in comparing social justice in their own country to Great Britain. • This module is one of the very few of its kind and that studying law in an everyday life context is not a compulsory part of a law degree. I had never really thought about this before but it is shocking! ‘You don’t learn to drive without getting in the car.. How can it be right to have a law degree with no insight on how the law affects every day society”.
  6. 6. social justice, educating, rights issues, public interest lawyering and access to justice • When told we would be working with community organisations outside of Keele, my initial reaction was of uncertainty. I had not heard of the term ‘Community Legal Education’ and wasn’t sure if this was for me. After the lectures and reading the article on the role of community based clinical legal education, I recognised that many of the values were held by me- social justice, educating, rights issues, public interest lawyering and access to justice. I had learnt that we as students in a privileged position have a greater responsibility in the society we are part of.’
  7. 7. Innovation • Inspired and driven by the reality of social issues, shared by the 'stories' of Sharon Small, VoE, women within Embrace, and the service users of Brighter Futures, and Aspire, the students presented their research projects with public bodies, legal professionals and a wider range of third sector partners. Through engaging with professional partners, the students gained a wider picture of the potential impact of recent legislative reform with regard to welfare provision and legal aid, re Secretary of the North Staffordshire Law Society, and within a shared report of Brighter Futures and the Citizens Advice Bureau 'A Local Response to the Government's Welfare Reform Bill.
  8. 8. CLOCK- Community Legal Outreach Collaboration Keele • Following the Community Legal Education, Law in Action presentations; formed the Community Legal outreach Collaboration, Keele (CLOCK) • Drawing on the Regional Law Society Roundtable; “innovations in legal services to meet unmet legal need, pilot McKenzie friend,“She’s my calm in the storm” • Proposal to develop expert guidelines and training programme for selected students to be trained and supervised by the professional partners as a Community Legal Companion
  9. 9. Clock: Memorandum of Understanding  1. To build innovative and collaborative frameworks for Keele Law School, Community partners, Law Firms and Public Bodies to educate, support and promote community access to justice and legal services’ needs.  2. To develop, train and supervise Keele/community Legal Companions to participate responsibly and collaboratively as active citizens to support communities in which they live and work.  3. To collate information, transfer knowledge and share resources to promote social and legal policy research on legislative reforms, issues of access to justice and disseminate to wider community, academic and professional bodies
  10. 10. CLOCK-IN, Community Legal Education • Collaborative commitment to develop community legal education projects to share in schools, colleges, university and wider communities on social and legal issues, such as hate crimes, intimate/societal violence, homelessness and citizenship to develop community legal consciousness, awareness-raising and access to justice, and raising aspirations
  11. 11. Voices of Experience! • I still can't believe that I - me - actually spoke to University students, I never thought I'd even step foot on a University campus! It just shows that with good, non-judgemental, dedicated support victim/survivor's of abuse can become valued contributing members of their community and society. Please pass on my sincere thanks and gratitude to all of the students who came to listen to me. Their quiet, positive support which I could sense whilst sharing my experiences made me feel valued and quite important actually. Another big step forward in my own personal journey of recovery.
  12. 12. Community Legal Companion • Community legal companions are collaboratively trained and supervised to support community partner services to assist in legal needs to: housing, welfare benefits, family law, criminal justice, asylum and immigration through guidance in • Form filling and application process • Unbundling papers in formal proceedings • Note Taking • Assistance in legal and formal proceedings
  13. 13. Sept 2012 Training and Launch of the Community Legal Companion  • The judges of Stoke-on-Trent County Court are very impressed by the scheme and the presence of trained volunteers in our court on a daily basis will provide a valuable source of support for many Court Users facing difficult issues. We feel fortunate that this imaginative scheme is based locally. We look forward to supporting the development of the scheme National Law Society President, Lucy Scott Moncrieff The cuts to legal aid are sadly inevitable, but the time for reflection on those cuts has passed and we must now look at how to ensure access to justice facilitated for those who need it. Keele University’s initiative encapsulates that approach and I hope that it will eventually be replicated in some way in other areas around the country. The Community Legal Companion idea not only helps to serve those seeking support when encountering the legal system, but it also gives the lawyers of tomorrow vital experience and a deep understanding of the importance of access to justice.
  14. 14. Community Legal Companion Roles and Responsibilities Community Legal Companion is: • A Keele Law Student monitored and insured by Keele University Law School • CRB/DBS checked, and bound by the confidentiality and well being agreement • Committed to one session (4hrs) per fortnight for the academic term-time teaching (20 weeks) • Trained by the partnership 5 day academic, solicitor, third sector, court and barrister training; with additional court and third sector specialism • Supervised in the location of the respective partner organisations • Bound to report all community legal companion activities
  15. 15. Operational Model • • • • • • • The Community Legal Companions are allocated to the court rota and a third sector specialist team (Savana, VoE, Arch, Brighter Futures, CAB, Aspire) Clients are referred to the CLOCK partnership for the community legal companion service by: i) public sector access to court legal companion desk, clock email/phone ii) charitable sector access to charitable legal companion desk iii)private sector clients need to private law firm (listed as partners on leaflet) complete and sign the information letter Referral process; to mediation, legal aid and affordable fixed fee service
  16. 16. Feedback  • “CLOCK have been efficient and reliable in organising legal companionship for my service user whose case is unique and complex, as she is a victim of domestic violence yet legally defined as a defendant.I feel relieved that my service user has a legal companion who can provide her with assistance and moral support during her trial, and ensure that information is recorded in case of an appeal being necessary. CLOCK is a necessary service for vulnerable individuals who either cannot afford legal advice or aren’t seen as eligible for support due to their unique circumstances”. Litigant in person: ‘Without the legal companion we wouldn’t have support at court. The support is fantastic -you can share your view and your say only’.
  17. 17. CLOCK-Wise • Collaborative frameworks to support social and legal policy research to monitor and critically analyse legal issues in the local community towards wider dissemination, social advocacy and policy reforms at local, national and international levels.
  18. 18. Innovative Research findings      Child Contact case; Litigants in Person; calming court process and facilitating supervised contact order with YMCA Criminal Defendant; Assisting access to justice for criminal defendant to attend trial and observe distinct criminal and civil re duress, with Arch, Brighter Futures Care proceedings; assisting non-biological parties (not eligible for legal aid) to proceedings, with Court ref to Nowell-Meller Assisting vulnerable adults, Lichfield Reynolds Debt assistance, Brighter Futures
  19. 19. CLOCK Tours; Westminster, DeMountford • "The Community Legal Companion, CLOCK, is a progressive initiative that the current times demand to be rolled out nationally'. David Roberts, Director of Clinical Studies, Westminster University. • "We are looking at ways to mitigate the impact of the legal aid scope cuts and the CLOCK project creates an exciting model for us to adopt locally", Glenda Terry, Advice Services Development Officer,Community Advice and Law Service,
  20. 20. Worcester Law School, Law Society and On-side Advocacy • The Director of Worcester Law School and Trustees of Onside-Advocacy visited the CLOCK Tour and provided following feedback: • “To have such a wide range of professionals working collaboratively to support the CLOCK partnership is most impressive. They clearly see the value of the Legal Companion role and the benefits it brings to the community in these times of reduced public funding. However, hearing from those with personal acute needs who have benefited directly from the support of the Companions is quite inspirational and reinforces what a valuable service they are providing. Thank you for sharing your work with us. It’s a great model for what can be achieved and has given us so much useful information for the development of our work in Worcester.” • The tale of the Worcester team's observations suggest that this Keele model merits further exposure for its initiatives and impact.With, in effect, the cessation of the ‘Legal Aid’ programme as it was and its evolution into a new mutation with centralised and commercial controls run from regional centres, the provision of a local service with access to citizens in the community will become a resource of huge importance for those who rely on use of the national legal system.
  21. 21. The Court Manager of Birmingham Civil Justice Centre  "Designated Family Judge for Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, Her Honour Judge Hindley QC, is very interested in adopting this scheme for the Birmingham Family Courts. The Family Courts in Birmingham is one of the largest centres for family work outside of London and cover a wide range of work from the usual cases such as Divorce and Private and Public Law to Court of Protection and International Maintenance matters. As you can appreciate we have a huge amount of litigants in person which has only increased since the legal aid changes. She has nominated District Judge Stephen Gailey and the Legal Adviser manager Fiona McCourt to start to look at the possibility of adopting our scheme and requested assistance in developing the model with Birmingham Law School".
  22. 22. European Parliament  May 30th The CLOCK Community Legal Companion project was featured in Good Practice Collection on Social Innovation that was distributed at the conference “Social Innovation – Priority for a European Agenda” at the European Parliament on May 30th.
  23. 23. Contributions to UK Parliamentary Debate  The evidence provided by Voices of Experience and others was invaluable in providing Baroness Scotland with the hard examples to show that the points we and other representative bodies were making were real and not merely theoretical. Please could you pass on my thanks to them for their help, which contributed to securing a successful vote on Baroness Scotland’s motion.   There were some useful comments in Lord McNally’s speech. He has given an important clarification that for a crossundertaking to deny a victim their legal aid, "there would have to be equivalence in the cross-undertaking". It would be pushing it to call this a concession, but it was an important clarification that we had previously been unable to get.   He also agreed to look again at the situation where someone has been in hiding and therefore cannot get evidence from within the two year cut-off. He believes the ability to apply for an injunction in those circumstances is sufficient protection but of course that requires an injunction application that at present would not be made, and that in and of itself may increase the risk of violence. But he has promised to keep this under review “from day 1”.   All of this groundwork will help to ensure that when the actual examples arise, there is strong pressure on the Government to revise the arrangements quickly to ensure greater protection for the victims of domestic violence.
  24. 24. Contributionto Low Commission • Launch of the Report, Jan 2014 • Public Legal Education Recommendations for Law School collaboration; Ministry of Justice should work with Dept of Education to integrate information about legal rights and responsibilities in the national curriculum • University Law Schools to work with LawWorks and Law for Life. • Training for Community Legal Companions:
  25. 25. HEA Outcomes! Higher Education Community Partners Social and Legal Policy Reform • Raising Higher Aspirations • Development of Graduate Attributes • Motivation to participate as an active citizen in wider community • Community Legal Education, in Schools and Colleges • Raising awareness, prevention and promotion • Contributions to community, schools, partner outreach. • National and International Collaborations and Reflective Learning • Research and Advocacy and Policy reforms
  26. 26. Welcome Collaborations; • Develop National HEA data on unmet legal needs and access to legal services • Develop HEA as coordinating body for community legal collaboration • Please see flyers for interest in building partnerships at local and national level.