Clinic Handbook


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Clinic Handbook

  1. 1. (Your institution)’s Legal Advice Centre Student Advisor Handbook 2006 Edition
  2. 2. Please note: this Handbook can be reproduced or amended by your institution providing the acknowledgement in paragraph 4 on page 5 is retained in full. November 2006 2
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. CONTENTS Page Welcome to (your institution)’s Legal Advice Centre 5 Introducing Clinical Legal Education 6 How the Centre works 7-9 The Client 10 Our Standards 11 Your Centre 12 – 13 Your Participation 14 – 15 The Interview 16 – 19 The Advice 20 – 21 Record Keeping 22 – 25 Office Facilities & Procedures 26 – 28 Professional & Ethical Matters 29 – 30 Confidentiality 31 Learning Through Doing 32-33 A Final Word 34 APPENDICES Appendix A – Summary of basic rules for Advice Centre Student Advisors 35 - 38 Appendix B – A Guide to Professional Practice 39 - 46 Appendix C – Legal Advice Centre Forms and Letters 47 FORMS & INSTRUCTIONS Student Advisor Contract 48 - 53 Information for Clients Form 54 - 56 Client Details Form 57 Authority Form 58 Authority to the Legal Services Commission to Audit File Form 58 File Summary Form 59 4
  5. 5. Attendance Form 60 Receipt of Documents Form 61 Acknowledgement of Return of Documents Form 61 Research/ Task Record 62 File Closure Sheet 63 Questionnaire for Clients 64 - 66 Student Experience Evaluation Form 67 - 69 Supervisor Quality Evaluation Form 70 - 71 LETTERS Post-Interview Letter 72 Advice to Client Letter 73 General Letter to Third Parties 74 File Closure Letter 75 5
  6. 6. Welcome to (your institution)’s Legal Advice Centre (Your institution)’s Legal Advice Centre (the Centre) delivers pro bono legal services. Students at (your institution) have the opportunity to take part in hands-on legal work for the benefit of the wider community. The Centre gives free legal advice to members of the public. This service is provided by (your institution)’s students under the supervision of professionally-qualified members of staff. This Handbook will guide you through the experience of working and learning in the Centre. The Handbook describes the Centre’s professional standards, working practices and rôle in your studies. We hope that you will find it useful. You should have it to hand at all times when you are involved in Centre work. The original version of this Handbook (1999) was prepared with the kind assistance of the staff at the Law Clinic at Sheffield Hallam University. The final version was compiled by The College of Law, the help of which is gratefully acknowledged. 6
  7. 7. INTRODUCING CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION • What is the rôle of the Legal Advice Centre in my legal education? The Legal Advice Centre is mainly a vehicle for the study of law and of practice. Although the Centre provides a useful service to the community, it is primarily about putting theory into practice, whilst allowing you time to reflect on your experience. It allows you a valuable opportunity to see how a case progresses in practice and how the skills that you will learn on the LPC come together in the context of one client file. • How will I learn from the experience? There are three principal ways in which you should learn from this clinical experience: • working on a real client case; • discussion at your follow-up meetings; and • evaluating your experiences. • What skills will I use? Depending on the case, you will use some or all of the following skills: • interviewing; • factual analysis, i.e. problem-solving; • legal research; • letter-writing; and • negotiation and advocacy. You will also have the opportunity to develop your office and administrative skills, your team-working skills and your ability to manage your time. In addition, you should become familiar with the ethical and professional issues relevant to legal practice. 7
  8. 8. HOW THE CENTRE WORKS All legal advice centres follow the same operational rules. This ensures that the client and student experience is consistent between such centres. It also enables staff to maintain quality control more effectively. Solicitors holding practising certificates supervise each centre. (Your institution) also has professional indemnity insurance cover to protect its staff, students and clients. Set out below is an outline of the way in which the Centre works: • All participating students (‘Student Advisors’) must complete an induction programme in which the operational rules and the reasons for them are clearly explained. All students get a copy of the Handbook and must sign a contract in which they agree to comply with the rules. • Student Advisors are organised into pairs or a group of three. • Clients telephone for an appointment. • The Centre Administrator takes brief details of the case from the client. A Supervisor then decides whether the case is suitable for the Centre. Factors taken into account include urgency, complexity and available expertise and whether or not the case is likely to be of educational benefit to the students. If the Centre cannot help, the client is told why and, where possible, alternative sources of help are suggested. • If the Centre can help, the Administrator allocates Student Advisors, makes an appointment and confirms the appointment in writing. The client will also be sent written details of the nature and extent of the service provided. • The Student Advisors must then check with the Administrator at least a week before their allocated interview date to confirm the date, time and client details. This gives the Student Advisors the opportunity to carry out any preliminary 8
  9. 9. research that may be necessary. Remember, it is the responsibility of Student Advisors to contact the Centre Administrator. • The Student Advisors meet with the Supervisor half an hour before the time set for the interview to discuss how they intend to conduct the interview. You will be supervised throughout your case by the same Supervisor wherever possible. • The Student Advisors then interview the client. A Supervisor is always available for consultation but does not take part in the interview. This is a fact- finding exercise. No advice must be given at this stage. Student Advisors inform the client orally and in writing of the nature and extent of the service, including the fact that advice can only be given in writing after the case has been researched. • Following the interview, the Student Advisors have a post-interview review meeting with the Supervisor and report back on the interview. They will also discuss whether the case is suitable for the Centre to advise on and, if so, how the Student Advisors intend to progress the case. • On the same day, the Student Advisors draft a letter informing the client whether the Centre can advise him or her. If so, the client is also told when the advice letter will be ready – normally within two weeks of the interview. If not, the client is given the reason and, where relevant, referred on to another agency which may be able to help. • If the Centre is able to help, the Student Advisors agree an action plan with the Supervisor and conduct and record factual and legal research. • The Student Advisors also arrange a further appointment (normally a week later) with the Supervisor to discuss research findings, the progress of the case and the first draft of an advice letter. 9
  10. 10. • The Supervisor scrutinises the draft advice letter and approves or suggests appropriate amendments. In practice, it takes Student Advisors several drafts to produce a professionally-acceptable advice letter. Exceptionally, if the period exceeds two weeks, the client is advised of the delay. If the delay is considered prejudicial to the case the Supervisor will intervene and take appropriate action. • When the advice letter is eventually approved, the Supervisor and Student Advisors sign it and place it in the post tray in the Administration Office, together with an evaluation questionnaire. • On conclusion of the case, all students are asked to complete an Experience Evaluation Form and to meet with their Supervisor to discuss their performance. • At the end of each term, the Student Advisors must also attend a Group Evaluation Meeting, to discuss their experience generally within the Centre. 10
  11. 11. THE CLIENT • How many clients will I see? You will interview one client, following which you will have to work intensively for a period of two weeks. In addition you will be asked to evaluate your experience critically. Clinical legal education is all about doing, and learning from doing. • Who will be responsible for the client? You and your partner(s) will be responsible for the client under the overall supervision of a Centre Supervisor. Your clients will be real people with real problems. Yes, you will be working under supervision, but you - not your Supervisor - will have the relationship with the client and you will have the responsibility of providing the advice. • Where will the clients come from? The Advice Centre offers advice to members of the public. Although we are in principle able to take on any case, in practice we only take on clients whose cases suit our educational purposes. We therefore do not need or expect to take on the cases of all people whom we might be able to help, nor do we expect to offer the range of legal services which other agencies might provide. We offer an advice-only service. Clients are fully informed as to the nature and scope of the service we offer before any case is taken on. (Your institution) is also aware of the extent of unmet legal needs and tries to ensure that its service is targeted at those clients who are otherwise unable or unlikely to get help. 11
  12. 12. OUR STANDARDS • What standard will I be expected to achieve? We owe a duty to provide a competent and professional service to all clients we advise. The Centre is subject to the professional rules and disciplinary procedures of The Law Society. All Student Advisors will be working on client matters under the supervision of Solicitors who hold practising certificates. • Will the Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct apply to me? Yes. You are part of the Advice Centre team. The team is supervised by professionally-qualified staff. These staff must ensure that the Centre operates within the relevant rules and codes. It is essential that you become familiar with the professional rules and operating procedures of the Centre. All advice prepared by you must be checked and approved by one of the Supervisors. • How will I know that I am doing things right? Apart from being closely supervised at all stages of your participation in the Centre, we believe that you will wish to know whether the work you have produced and your overall contribution to the Centre have been of a satisfactory standard. We believe the best way to achieve this is through a process of self-evaluation coupled with a consideration of your file by the Supervisor. If you have completed your case satisfactorily you will be presented with a certificate to acknowledge your achievement. It is hoped that student performance in the Centre will become a formally-assessed part of the BVC and LPC. 12
  13. 13. YOUR CENTRE • Who are the Supervisors? Members of the Centre staff for 2006/2007 are: Title Name Telephone No. • Where is the Centre? The Centre is at: …………………………………………………………………………………………………… There are dedicated interviewing, administrative and student work spaces together with Supervisory facilities. The e-mail address is: The postal address is: Telephone number: 13
  14. 14. • When does the Centre operate? Client appointments will be made during normal office hours. The telephone number for the Centre’s Administrator is a dedicated Centre telephone number and voicemail on which clients can leave messages, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Appointments will be held on weekdays during term-time, at …………………… Students will be allocated to a rota. The advice rota will not be maintained during vacation periods or when students do not have sufficient time to devote to their casework, e.g. revision and examination times. The rota will also be suspended if the caseload exceeds the optimum number for the Legal Advice Centre’s purposes. • When will I be able to use the Centre facilities? Due to the confidential nature of the work and to the equipment involved, we cannot leave the Centre unlocked for casual use. If you need access to the Centre when it is locked, you can get a key from ………………………….. at …………….... You will have to provide identification and will need to sign the key out. You are responsible for returning the key as soon as you have finished working in the Centre. You should never take the key off the premises or leave the Centre unlocked when unoccupied by the Centre staff or Student Advisors. You can use the Centre whenever (your institution) is open unless Centre staff tell you otherwise. 14
  15. 15. YOUR PARTICIPATION • How do I know what my case is about and what case details will I have? As stated earlier, you will be allocated a date and time for a client interview. The Centre Administrator will contact you by e-mail at least one week before the allocated date, to check the date, time and client details and provide you with a copy of the Appointment Request Form. • What case details will I have? The Appointment Request Form will contain a brief outline of the client’s problem as recorded by the Centre Administrator. You are then expected to arrange a preliminary meeting with your partner(s) to discuss how you propose to conduct the interview and also to carry out any preliminary research that may be necessary. You should use this information to consider the facts you will need to establish during the interview and the questions you will need to ask. • What if I am unable to attend? It is imperative for the client, the Centre, (your institution), and for your own reputation that the rota system operates effectively. IF FOR ANY REASON YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND AN APPOINTMENT, YOU MUST NOTIFY THE CENTRE ADMINISTRATOR OR SUPERVISOR IMMEDIATELY, AND WE WILL TRY TO ARRANGE FOR ANOTHER APPOINTMENT AT A LATER DATE. WE WILL ONLY DO SO IF YOU HAVE A GOOD REASON FOR BEING UNABLE TO ATTEND THE INTERVIEW. • My commitment If you are selected as a Student Advisor you will be asked to sign a contract. A copy of this is set out in Appendix C. You should read this carefully and make sure you understand the commitment you are making. You will need to complete the necessary 15
  16. 16. details in the Client Register Card for the index folder. Your student number must be quoted on all correspondence, attendance notes and other documents you create. 16
  17. 17. THE INTERVIEW BEFORE THE INTERVIEW • How will I know what questions to ask? A week before the scheduled interview, the Administrator will e-mail you a copy of the Appointment Request Form on which the case details will appear. Half-an-hour before the interview, you will be asked to attend a meeting with your supervisor and the other Student Advisor(s) to discuss how you will conduct the interview. Your Supervisor will discuss with you the sort of questions you should ask, but this will not be an exhaustive list. Thinking about the kinds of questions you should ask is part of the learning process. If you do not get all the information that you need at the first interview, then you may have to contact the client, but only with the Supervisor’s permission. This will be one of the matters to discuss at the Post-Interview Review. • What will happen on the day of the interview? On the day of the interview you must arrive at the Centre at least 30 minutes before the client’s appointment. This is to enable you to deal with the opening of the file, and to discuss the questions you intend to ask with your Supervisor. When the client arrives, he or she will report to Student Services who in turn will telephone the Centre. You will collect your client from Student Services and take him or her to the interview room. Your Supervisor and the Administrator will remain on duty in the Centre throughout the interview and will be available to do any photocopying or other tasks that may become necessary. Your Supervisor will remain available throughout the interview. 17
  18. 18. THE INTERVIEW • What will I have to do at the interview? Your most important task will be to put the client at ease and listen to what he or she has to say. The interview is a fact-gathering exercise – an opportunity for you to find out what the client’s problem is. You will not give any advice to the client and you will explain this at the start of the interview. You and your partner(s) must take a detailed note of the interview. We suggest that you should share the work between you and each have the opportunity to ask questions and take notes. Therefore, one of you should start asking questions, the other taking notes, and you should swap rôles halfway through the interview. Immediately after the interview you should complete an Interview Summary Form and attach that to the file together with the notes. • What information will I have to give the client about the Centre? At the start of the interview you must check that the client has received a copy of the Information for Client leaflet. You must then summarise and explain its contents. In particular, you must emphasise: 1. that the Centre provides an advice-only service and cannot represent the client in any proceedings; 2. that you and your partner(s) are students who are advising under supervision; 3. that the service is free; 4. that the Centre does not give advice in every case; 18
  19. 19. 5. that where the Centre cannot give advice it will try to suggest alternative sources of help for the client; 6. that the Centre is not covered by the ‘Solicitors' Indemnity Rules’ but that the work of the Centre is covered by professional indemnity insurance; and 7. that if the client has a complaint he or she can use the Centre’s complaints procedure, which initially involves contacting the Centre Solicitor. You will need to take with you to the interview a copy of the Centre’s Information for Clients Form. After summarising the contents, you must ask the client if he or she understands it and if so ask the client to sign it. The Centre cannot advise a client who does not sign this form. AFTER THE INTERVIEW • What happens after the interview? As soon as the interview has finished, you will need to escort the client off the premises and then meet with your Supervisor to go through the information that you have received. This post-interview review is your opportunity to check that you have understood properly the client’s case and thought about the relevant areas of the law. Your Supervisor will also be able to guide you to relevant resources and help you formulate your research and action plan. Following the post-interview review, the Supervisor will book an advice consultation appointment with you to take place within seven days of the interview. This should give you enough time to conduct your research and produce a first draft letter of advice. You should leave a copy of your research and draft advice letter in the Centre in-tray for the Supervisor the day before your next meeting with the Supervisor. If for any reason you do not think you will be able to complete your advice within seven days, you must contact your Supervisor immediately and explain why. 19
  20. 20. • What if the case is complicated? At the post-interview review, part of the discussion will involve considering whether you can usefully advise the client. If you cannot, it will be necessary to write to the client explaining why you are unable to help and, if appropriate, refer him or her to another agency. The decision as to whether the Centre is able to help a client will be made by the Supervisor, in consultation with you. • What if it is an area of law that I know nothing about? Good lawyers do not know all the answers to every legal problem but they should know where to find them. Your Supervisor will be able to refer you to useful resources. Apart from this, your lecturers possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and, provided confidentiality is preserved, the Supervisor may refer you to a lecturer who may be able to help you. However, in no circumstances should you consult another lecturer for help without your Supervisor’s prior permission. Whatever happens, you must make a detailed record of your research using the Centre’s Research Record Form. This is so that you, your partner, the Supervisor, or any other lawyer who picks up your file will be able to follow the research trail that led you to your conclusions. 20
  21. 21. THE ADVICE • How will we give our advice? Your advice will always be in writing. You must never give advice to the client at the interview or without the Supervisor’s prior approval, nor must you ever contact clients in any way without a Supervisor’s agreement. • Can we represent the client in courts or tribunals or assist in other ways e.g. write letters for the client or draft documents? Unfortunately, no. You must make it clear to the client at the start of the interview that assistance is limited to advice only. This is for both educational and professional reasons. (Your institution)’s insurance policy does not currently cover representation. This restriction also applies to where the client asks you to go along with them to a hearing just to help them if they need it. • How will I maintain contact with my client? Immediately after the post-interview review you must draft a letter to the client thanking him or her for attending and saying when you will send your advice. This will normally be within ten working days. If, towards the end of that period, you need more time, you will agree a date with the Supervisor and send a further letter to the client explaining the reason for the delay and when you will send the advice. However, wherever possible you should adhere to the deadline. You must not enter into any other contact with the client except with the authorisation of the Supervisor. You will send all letters - after your Supervisor has signed and approved them - by placing them in the post tray in the Administration Office. 21
  22. 22. The advice letter will also enclose a Client Questionnaire. The aim of this is to provide some feedback on your performance and the service provided by the Centre. 22
  23. 23. RECORD-KEEPING • What records will I have to keep? Record-keeping is an essential part of the work of a Solicitor. Your records must be accurate, up-to-date and maintained, so that anyone picking up the file can readily understand it. All documents must be kept in the file, including drafts, notes etc. By the time you attend the first interview the Centre Administrator will have sent an appointment letter to the client. This will be attached to the Appointment Request Form with any telephone messages, and kept in the Administrator’s office at the Advice Centre. When you arrive for your appointment with the client, the Administrator will give you the file which has been opened for your client. You will need to fill in the Client Card Register with your own and the client’s contact details. You will also need to complete the whiteboard in the Centre, as your case progresses. The number allocated to the client file will act as the Centre’s point of reference for that case. You must quote it in all correspondence and dealings with the case. When you see a new client you will record his or her basic details (name, address, contact number) on the Client Details Form and on the Interview Summary Form. This procedure must never be bypassed, as clients will return to the Centre expecting those advising them to know their basic details. In a case where the Centre can advise, the first documents in the file will be: • Appointment Request Form; • letter confirming date of appointment; • Interview Summary Form; • original Notes of the First Interview attached to an Interview Summary Form; • signed Information for Clients Form; 23
  24. 24. • File Summary Form; and • records of both the Pre- and Post-Interview Meetings with your Supervisor. These documents provide the basic information needed to manage the file. As documents are accumulated the following must be kept tagged in the order in which they arise or are received: • copies of correspondence sent; • correspondence received; • full notes of all client and other relevant contacts such as interviews, telephone calls etc, on Attendance Forms; • records of meetings with Supervisors; • records of legal research; and • draft letters. You must also summarise every step taken in the case on the File Summary Form, identifying who was involved, when, what was done and how long was taken on the particular task. Other documents relevant to the case, such as correspondence supplied by the client, copies of agreements, plans, statements of clients and witnesses, will be kept on file but not on the tag. You must keep all court papers separately within the file. You can get plastic wallets for these documents from the Administrator. Even if the Centre cannot advise the client, you must still place the Interview Summary Form, interview notes and copy letter informing the client that the Centre cannot help, on the file. All files must be stored in the filing cabinet in the Centre and must not be removed from the Centre without the consent of the Supervisor or the Administrator. 24
  25. 25. • Should I keep original documents? No. If your client brings any original documents with him or her, you should copy the documents on the Centre photocopier. You should do this at the end of the interview. If for any reason you need to keep an original document (e.g. it is too large to be copied) then you must record the nature of the document(s), sign the Receipt Form and give the receipt to the client. The document must then be returned to the client by registered post or arrangements made for the client to collect it from the Centre, as soon as possible. • What details do I have to record of the work that I do? You should not take any step in a case without making a careful record of the time spent on the matter, the date, place, people involved and details of that step. This includes setting out any information received or requested from a client. This record must be completed on the File Summary Form, which must be attached to the left-hand side of the file. You must make your records without delay You must also put any documents on file as soon as you create or receive them. This includes documents such as attendance notes or records of research. Once made, you may not remove records from the file in any circumstances. • Can I take a file away with me? No. Files are kept in the Centre. If you need to work on a file when the Centre is closed then you must follow the access protocol that you were given at training. If you do need to do work relating to the file, for example to carry out your research in the library, then you should make a detailed note of the information you need. You must make sure that you do not record information (for example names, addresses or case details) which could enable others to identify the client or matter. This would be a breach of 25
  26. 26. confidentiality. You should refer to the case by its allocated number in any situation where confidentiality is at risk. 26
  27. 27. OFFICE FACILITIES AND PROCEDURES • Where can I type up my work? There are computers in the Centre, which are available for you to use. If you are going to type up any of your work – and wherever possible you should – you must use the Centre’s computers. The Administrator will advise you how and where to save your work. You must not use any of the other computers belonging to (your institution) or your own computer to work on a client’s case. This is to avoid you breaching the duty of confidentiality owed to your client. • What if I need to telephone my client? Again, if you need to make any calls regarding your case you may only do so from the Centre. Before you make any calls, you must discuss the purpose of the call and the questions you are going to ask with your Supervisor or Administrator. ‘Thinking on the telephone’ is time-wasting and potentially dangerous. You must plan your call in advance and in writing. You should also never make a call unless the file is to hand. This is because you will invariably have to refer to facts, figures or dates from the case. As soon as you have finished the call, you should complete a detailed file note on an Attendance Form. You should include details of who had the conversation, when the conversation took place and what was said. Again, this must be kept on the file. 27
  28. 28. • What about photocopying? A photocopier is available for your use in the Advice Centre. You must not use any other photocopiers belonging to (your institution) for Advice Centre work. You may only use the photocopier in question for Advice Centre work. • How will I know if I have any mail? The Supervisor or Administrator will open all incoming mail. The mail will be dated as at the date of opening and placed in the Incoming-Post Tray in the Centre. Feedback from your Supervisor will be placed in the Student Tray under your supervisor’s name. After you have interviewed your client, you or your partner(s) should check the Student Tray daily until the case has been completed. Both you and the Centre Supervisor will sign all outgoing mail (including fax messages). You must never send any written communication (including e-mail) without checking with the Centre staff and obtaining a counter-signature. Any post will be sent out first- class by the Centre Administrator. • How will the Centre contact me? You will be allocated a time and date for your client interview at the start of the programme. You must provide term-time and home addresses, telephone numbers (including mobile telephone number) and e-mail addresses. You must notify the Centre Administrator immediately of any changes to these. You should also make sure that your Student Advisor partner(s) always have an up-to-date contact number and details of when and where they can contact you. 28
  29. 29. • What happens if my course work comes into conflict with my Advice Centre duties? If you are having any difficulties fulfilling your duties in the Centre (for example, you do not think you will be able to complete your advice letter on time because you have to complete an in-course assessment), you must let your Supervisor know as soon as possible. We will do whatever we can to help you resolve any such conflicts, but we must stress that we will not be able to obtain any extensions to your coursework deadlines. Whilst the Centre will not operate in the period immediately before and during the compulsory and elective exams, we cannot avoid all other assessment dates. As a result, inevitably, you may find yourself allocated to a client in the same week as an assessment deadline. If this does happen we would normally expect you to fulfil both responsibilities. If you do not think you will be able to cope with this, then you should consider whether you should participate in the Centre. Remember that whilst the Centre staff are there to supervise and support you so that you can achieve the standards expected of the profession, it is inevitable that pressure will arise. Pressure of work and time management are facts of life. It is good practice for the future! 29
  30. 30. PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL MATTERS Conflicts • What should I do to avoid a conflict of interest? The Advice Centre cannot act simultaneously for two or more people who have an actual or potential conflict of interest with each other. The Administrator will check the list of current and previous clients before you interview the client, and your Supervisor will discuss the issue of conflict with you at the post-interview review. If you identify any conflict, you must consult your Supervisor before you take any action on the case. If it appears that you may have any personal involvement or vested interest in the client's problem, then again the Centre cannot act for the client. If this arises, you must consult your Supervisor before discussing the matter further with the client. • Can I act against (your institution)? No. We are unable to take any action on behalf of a client against (your institution), Governors, employees or current students. The reason for this is the actual or potential conflict of interest. In such cases, after discussion with the Supervisor, you must try to refer the client to another suitable agency. The Interview Summary Form contains a question specifically designed to identify possible conflicts. Referrals • How do I refer a case to another agency or Solicitors? This will be appropriate where we do not have the expertise or resources to take on a particular matter or the case needs urgent action or Centre staff do not consider a case to be of sufficient educational value. 30
  31. 31. The ultimate decision whether to take on a case or to advise the client to seek help elsewhere will be made by your Supervisor in discussion with you at the post-interview meeting. You must not mislead your client into expecting any help until a decision is made in each case. Although we can make appropriate suggestions about which agency the client should consult, the choice is ultimately the client's. We must never favour one firm of solicitors over another. However, it is acceptable to advise clients that a particular firm has relevant expertise. The Centre also has a list of Solicitors and other organisations willing to accept referrals. You will only advise the client of the possibility of referral if the Supervisor agrees. It is then a matter for the client whether to use the referral point. You must not seek to refer a client until you have discussed the matter in full with the Supervisor and obtained the Supervisor’s agreement. Any referral will be made in writing. 31
  32. 32. CONFIDENTIALITY • Do the Law Society’s rules of confidentiality apply to my work in the Centre? Yes. You must be familiar with the Solicitors' Practice Rules and Code of Conduct on confidentiality. The Practice Rules are summarised later on in the Handbook, but you should also look at the Law Society’s Code of Conduct (2004) and Recognised Bodies Regulations (2004). You will breach confidentiality if you discuss a case with any person not involved in the Legal Advice Centre, if this would or could lead to any identification of the client, case or other individuals concerned. This does not mean you cannot discuss the nature of the work you have undertaken or what you have learned from it, but you can only do this where clients or cases cannot be identified. However, it is not a breach of confidentiality to discuss a case with another Centre Student Advisor or with a Centre Supervisor or Administrator. To avoid the risk of accidentally disclosing information, we recommend, though, that you only discuss the case with your partner(s), your Supervisor or the Administrator at your Centre. • Are we allowed to receive any money from the client? No. This is a free service and we cannot receive money from or on behalf of clients. We do not have a client account. You may only accept a gift with the Supervisor’s knowledge and consent. However, it has been known for grateful clients to offer boxes of chocolates! 32
  33. 33. LEARNING THROUGH DOING • How will I learn from participating in the Centre? Although the Centre provides a useful service, its main purpose is to aid your learning. Self-evaluation is a vital part of this process. We will therefore ask you to do two things after you have completed your participation in the Centre. The first is to complete an Evaluation Form. This asks you to think about what you achieved at the Centre, what you could have done better and what you might have done differently. The form will also help the Supervisors if asked to provide a reference. You will then attend an Evaluation Meeting with your Supervisor to discuss your experience and to find out how your Supervisor has evaluated your performance. The second is to ask you to attend a Group Evaluation Meeting with other participants to discuss in general terms your involvement in the Centre’s work. Learning from the experience of others is as important as reflecting on your own work. This meeting will take place at the end of the term in which you participate in the Centre. In some cases, Student Advisors may be allocated to firms. Each firm will consist of two Student Advisor pairs. Each pair will attend the post-interview review and advice consultation meeting for their own case and that of the other firm pair. In this way, Student Advisors will get the opportunity to take part in two cases. • Will I get any credit for working in the Advice Centre? Apart from the obvious benefits to your main studies of practising how to apply the law in context, (your institution) will also award a Certificate of Participation to all students who successfully complete their case in the Advice Centre. Success in this context means conducting the interview, researching the case and providing written advice. You will also be expected to behave in an appropriate, professional manner throughout the case. 33
  34. 34. 34
  35. 35. A FINAL WORD Working in the Advice Centre is a unique opportunity for two reasons. First, it gives you hands-on experience, within a closely-supervised environment, of the practical matters you are studying on the LPC. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it gives you time on your course to think about what you have achieved, and how you could improve on your performance. The opportunity to reflect on your experiences is one that you will have all too rarely when you finally enter practice. As a result, if you are to gain the maximum benefit from taking part in the Centre’s work, not only do you need to aspire to the highest professional standards but, also, you must recognise that your work with the Centre gives you a valuable opportunity to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses. We all have to learn from experience and it is inevitable that both staff and students involved will have constructive suggestions for ways in which our operations can be improved. Please pass on any suggestions - even where they are critical - as they are invaluable to us. 35
  36. 36. APPENDIX A Summary of basic rules for Advice Centre Student Advisors 1. PRE-INTERVIEW 1.1 The Administrator will contact you the week before the interview date. 1.2 Read Appointment Request Form. 1.3 Carry out any preliminary research necessary. 1.4 Open client file. 1.5 Meet Supervisor half an hour before interview. 2. FIRST INTERVIEW 2.1 Greet client and introduce yourselves. 2.2 Take client to interview room. 2.3 Refer client to copy of Information for Clients. Client will have been sent a copy of this with the appointment letter. 2.4 Summarise contents of Information for Clients. These are: • The Legal Advice Centre is run by (your institution). You are the Student Advisors allocated to the case. You are students and are not legally qualified. However, the Centre is supervised by qualified Solicitors. • Although the Centre aims to meet the high standards expected of any Solicitors’ practice, it is also for the educational benefit of students. 36
  37. 37. • The Centre reserves the right not to provide advice if the case involves any conflict of interest, is not of sufficient educational value in the view of the Centre staff or the Centre cannot assist for any other reason. If the Centre is unable to advise it will suggest referrals, where appropriate, to other agencies. • The Centre can in any event only provide initial advice. It cannot represent clients in court or tribunals or become involved in any other aspect of a case. • The Centre is covered by professional indemnity insurance although not through the Solicitors’ Indemnity Fund. • The Centre’s service is free. The Centre cannot receive any money from or on behalf of a client. • The client may be entitled to receive public funding to conduct his or her case, or enter into a conditional fee agreement, and, if the client requests it, details of solicitors undertaking such work can be provided. • If, as a result of advice from the Centre, the client does become involved in legal proceedings, the client may be ordered to pay costs by the relevant court or tribunal. • In the event of any client being dissatisfied with the service given by the Centre he or she should raise the matter initially with the Centre Solicitor. 2.5 Ask the client if he/she understands the basis on which the Centre offers its services. If so, ask the client to sign the Information for Clients Form. Advice cannot be given unless this form is signed. 2.6 Ask the client for the details of their problem. 2.7 Make full notes of the interview. 37
  38. 38. 2.8 Explain that you will contact the client within three days to tell him or her if the Centre can advise them and, if so, when he or she can expect to receive the written advice. The Centre aims to provide advice wherever possible within ten working days. 2.9 See the client out at the end of the interview. 2.10 Return to the Centre for a post-interview review with the Supervisor. Agree on a plan of action including making an Advice Consultation appointment to see the Supervisor within seven days to discuss how the case is progressing, your legal research and your draft advice letter. 2.11 On the same day draft letter to client thanking him/her for their visit and informing him/her of when the advice will be sent or, if advice cannot be given, the reasons(s) why. 2.12 Before leaving review session, complete Interview Summary Form and an Attendance Form summarising the discussion with your Supervisor, the File Summary Form. These forms, together with your interview notes, should then be filed in the case file. 2.13 Place up-to-date file in filing cabinet. 3. CASEWORK 3.1 Carry out the action plan including your research. 3.2 Check the Student Advisors’ in-tray at least daily, once you have held the first client interview and until the case is completed. 3.3 Meet with Supervisor at Advice Consultation meeting(s). Undoubtedly there will be several! 38
  39. 39. 3.4 Finally, complete draft advice letter for Supervisor to approve. We aim to send out advice letters to clients within two weeks of the interview. If this deadline cannot be met, write to the client explaining why and saying when the advice will be sent. 3.5 Make complete record of all activities and place on case file. 4. CENTRE MEETINGS Attend the Group Evaluation Meeting with your supervisor held at the end of the case. 5. WASTE PAPER All waste paper should be shredded. AND, finally; Reflect on your experience: use the ‘Experience Evaluation’ Form to help you. Then hand the forms to your Supervisor for comments and feedback, and as evidence of your performance. If in doubt about any aspect of how the Centre operates, JUST ASK! 39
  40. 40. APPENDIX B A Guide to Professional Practice The Solicitors working in the Advice Centre must ensure that the Centre complies in all respects with the practice rules governing the profession and other principles of conduct. Accordingly, students must adhere stringently to rules of professional practice, and this handbook gives an outline of the basic rules, for your attention. Of course, this is not a comprehensive guide to the rules of professional conduct and your attention is drawn in particular to the client care code, a copy of which is in the Advice Centre, together with the rules of professional practice. As the Centre operates an advice-only service, certain sections of this guide will not be relevant, but they are included for completeness. The Solicitors Act 1974 authorises the Council of the Law Society to make rules to regulate the professional practice, conduct and discipline of Solicitors. A number of rules have been made by the Council of the Law Society. The main rules which affect the Advice Centre can be found in the Law Society’s Code of Conduct (2004) and Recognised Bodies Regulations (2004). 1. INDEMNITY INSURANCE RULES All Solicitors who are held out as principals in private practice are required to be insured against loss arising from claims in respect of civil liability, of any description, incurred in connection with practice. Your institution’s insurance covers the Advice Centre for any professional negligence claims. 40
  41. 41. 2. SUPERVISION AND MANAGEMENT OF AN OFFICE The supervising Solicitors are responsible for exercising proper supervision over the students giving advice within the Law Centre. One Solicitor in each Advice Centre is designated as Centre Solicitor and is responsible for day-to-day management. Staff who do not hold a practising certificate or who are not Solicitors, may also act as Supervisors providing the Centre Solicitor oversees them. In accordance with the above, the Centre Solicitor will supervise and manage the office. The general principle of professional conduct is that a Solicitor cannot escape responsibility for work carried out in the office by leaving it to other staff, however well qualified. The Centre Solicitor will therefore provide or arrange the necessary supervision. 3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF OBTAINING INSTRUCTIONS A prospective client who is seeking a Solicitor must have a free choice as to whom to instruct. It is therefore fundamental to the relationship which exists between a Solicitor and the client that a Solicitor should be able to give impartial and frank advice to the client, free from any pressures or interests which would destroy or weaken professional independence or the relationship with the client. The fundamental principle relating to obtaining instructions is that a Solicitor cannot do anything in the course of practising as a Solicitor, or permit another person to do anything on his or her behalf, which compromises or impairs or is likely to compromise or impair any of the following: • the Solicitor's independence or integrity; • a person's freedom to instruct a Solicitor of his/her choice; • the Solicitor's duty to act in the best interests of the client; • the good repute of the Solicitor or of his/her profession; • the Solicitor's proper standard of work; • the Solicitor's duty to the court. 41
  42. 42. Rule 1 of the Solicitors' Practice Rules 1990 as amended forbids the Solicitor to act in circumstances where the client or potential client has not been given complete freedom of choice as to whom to instruct. The Solicitor and students within the Advice Centre must comply with the Solicitors' Introduction and Referral Code 1990, which is contained in 'The Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors', which can be found in the Advice Centre’s library. The Advice Centre also uses a referral list, which you can obtain from the Centre Supervisors. 4. PUBLICITY Students in the Advice Centre should be aware of rules of publicity, which are relevant to our practice. The Solicitors' Publicity Code 2001 permits advertising providing it: • does not breach the Solicitors' Practice Rules; • is not in bad taste; • is not inaccurate or misleading. Any publicity relating to the Advice Centre must be discussed with the Centre Solicitor. It is clear the following are forbidden: • unsolicited visits or telephone calls to the general public; • comparisons with other identifiable Solicitors; • naming own clients without the clients' consent. 5. ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF BUSINESS Under the provisions of the Solicitors’ Anti-Discrimination Rules 2004, Solicitors may accept introductions and referrals of business from other persons and may make introductions and refer business to other persons, provided there is no breach of these Rules, and that Solicitors comply with the Solicitors’ Introduction and Referral Code 1990 In the context of our work, it is perfectly permissible for other agencies, for 42
  43. 43. example a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to refer clients to us, or for us to refer people to other agencies or Solicitors. 6. RETAINER: ACCEPTANCE OF A CLIENT'S INSTRUCTION ARRANGEMENT A Solicitor is generally free to decide whether or not to accept instructions. A refusal to act, however, must not be based upon the race, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex or creed of the prospective client. A Solicitor must not act or, where relevant, must cease to act further, where the instructions would involve the Solicitor in a breach of the law or a breach of the principles of professional conduct, unless the client is prepared to change the instructions appropriately. A Solicitor must not act or continue to act in circumstances where he/she cannot represent the client with competence or diligence. A Solicitor must not accept instructions where he/she suspects that a client under duress or undue influence has given those instructions. Where instructions are received not from a client but from a third party on behalf of that client, a Solicitor should obtain written instructions from the client that the client wishes the Solicitor to act. In any case of doubt, the Solicitor should see the client or take other appropriate steps to confirm instructions. A Solicitor must not accept instructions to act in a matter where another Solicitor is acting for the client in respect of the same matter, until either the first retainer has been determined by the client or the first Solicitor has consented to the second Solicitor acting in his or her place. A Solicitor who has accepted instructions on behalf of a client is bound to carry out those instructions with diligence and must exercise reasonable care and skill. Above all else, a Solicitor must keep the client's business and affairs confidential. Further, it is 43
  44. 44. implied with the retainer that a Solicitor is under a duty, at all times, to observe the principles of professional conduct. In the light of this, a Solicitor must not take advantage of the age, inexperience, want of education or business experience, or emotional or other vulnerability of the client. The Solicitor is under a duty to keep the client properly informed and to comply with reasonable requests from the client for information concerning the client's affairs. A Solicitor is under a duty to consider and advise a client of assistance that may be available through publicly-funded help and representation. 7. COMPLAINTS The Advice Centre operates an internal procedure for complaints. This works on the following basis: • The client must know the name of the Student Advisors responsible for conducting the case and the Supervisor responsible for supervision. This information will be contained in the letter confirming that the Centre will be able to provide advice. • The client must know whom to approach in the event of any problem with the service provided. In the first instance, this will be the Centre Solicitor. • We must ensure that a client is, at all relevant times, given any appropriate information as to the issues raised in the progress of the matter. This information is set out in the Information for Clients leaflet. • Any complaint received from a client must be passed immediately to the Centre Supervisor. 8. TERMINATION OF RETAINER A Solicitor must not terminate the retainer with a client except for good reason and upon reasonable notice. Examples of good reasons for a Solicitor terminating a retainer would include: 44
  45. 45. • Where a Solicitor cannot continue to act without being in breach of the professional rules of conduct; • Where a Solicitor is unable to obtain clear instructions from a client; • Where there is a serious breakdown in the confidence between a Solicitor and a client. A client, however, can terminate a Solicitor's retainer for any reason. Any decision to terminate a retainer must be made by the Centre Solicitor or be reported to him or her if a client so decides. 9. HELP & REPRESENTATION: PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS When advising a client, you must inform clients about the existence, availability and possibility of publicly-funded help and representation (formerly known as “Legal Aid”). The client may apply for such assistance through an authorised Solicitor. The Advice Centre does not handle such matters. Where possible, Student Advisors should research the availability of Legal Aid Solicitors in the client’s locality from, and refer the client to an authorised Solicitor. 10. CONFLICT OF INTEREST A legal adviser should not accept instructions to act for two or more clients where there is a conflict, or a significant risk of a conflict, between the interests of those clients. If a Solicitor or firm of Solicitors has acquired relevant knowledge concerning a former client during the course of acting for that client, the Solicitor or firm of Solicitors must not accept instructions to act against the client. A Solicitor or firm of Solicitors must not continue to act for two or more clients where a conflict of interest arises between those clients (Rule 16D, Solicitors’ Practice Rules 1990). Exceptions to the Rule are contained in R16D(3). 45
  46. 46. A Solicitor must not act where the Solicitor's own interests conflict with the interests of a client or potential client. In this way, the Advice Centre cannot act against (your institution), its Governors, staff or current students. 11. CONFIDENTIALITY AND PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATIONS TO THE CLIENT As mentioned earlier, a Solicitor is under a duty to keep confidential to the Centre the affairs of the client, and to ensure that all the staff do the same. Although this duty can be overridden in certain exceptional circumstances, this is a decision that can only be taken by the Centre Solicitor. An adviser must not disclose a client's address without the client's consent under any circumstances. Nor must the details of a client's case be revealed or the fact that you are advising a client e.g. by leaving a telephone message for a client (unless the client has authorised this). Care must also be exercised if using e-mail. A Solicitor is obliged to deal promptly with correspondence on behalf of the client or former client and with any correspondence with the Law Society. 12. PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATIONS OWED TO THE COURT AND PROFESSION A Solicitor who acts in litigation, whilst under a duty to do the best for the client, must never deceive the court. If, prior to or in the course of any proceedings, a client admits to the Solicitor that he or she has committed perjury or misled the court in relation to those proceedings, it is the duty of the Solicitor to decline to act further unless the client fully agrees to disclose the conduct to the court. A Solicitor must comply with any order of the court which the court can properly make requiring the Solicitor to take or refrain from taking some particular course of action. Equally, a Solicitor is bound to honour an undertaking given to any court or tribunal. 46
  47. 47. A Solicitor must not act, whether in a professional capacity or otherwise, towards anyone in a way which is fraudulent, deceitful or otherwise contrary to the Solicitor's position as a Solicitor. Nor must the Solicitor use the Solicitor's position to take unfair advantage. 47
  48. 48. APPENDIX C Legal Advice Centre Forms and Letters Attached are samples of forms/documents used in the Legal Advice Centre. These forms are to be used in the Legal Advice Centre. FORMS Student Advisor Contract 48-53 Information for Clients Form 54-56 Client Details Form 57 Authority Form 58 Authority to the Legal Services Commission to Audit File Form 58 File Summary Form 59 Attendance Form 60 Receipt of Documents Form 61 `Acknowledgement of Return of Documents Form 61 Research/Task Record 62 File Closure Sheet 63 Questionnaire for Clients 64-66 Student Experience Evaluation Form 67-69 Supervisor Quality Evaluation Form 70-71 LETTERS Post-Interview Letter 72 Advice to Client Letter 73 General Letter to Third Parties 74 File Closure Letter 75 48
  49. 49. Student Advisor contract This contract is between you and (your institution). It sets out only your primary obligations. You will find further details of the procedures that you must follow during your work at the Legal Advice Centre in your Centre Handbook. 1. ORGANISATIONAL/INTERNAL MATTERS Advice Centre sessions – (a) Clients will telephone the Centre for an appointment which will be held on days fixed by Centre staff. The details of the Centre and its staff are contained on page 12 of this Handbook. (b) Student Advisors will contact the Administrator at least seven days before their allocated interview date to check the time, date and client details. (c) To ensure the smooth running of the client interview you must arrive at the office at least 30 minutes before the appointment. (d) After your appointment you will need to allow at least one hour for your Post- Interview Review with your Supervisor as well as to deal with any follow-up work and paper work. All files must be maintained in accordance with the procedures laid down in your Centre Handbook. Written notification will be given of any changes. (e) You must attend punctually during the agreed hours. (f) If you are unable to attend as agreed, it is your responsibility to inform your Supervisor according to the procedure set out in your Centre Handbook. Standard of dress - You are expected to dress in a manner appropriate to working in a Solicitor's office. Contact with clients - (a) There must always be two Student Advisors in attendance during the interview. 49
  50. 50. (b) No work involving contact with clients is to be undertaken at any time when an Advice Centre Supervisor is not available, except with prior authorisation. (c) No advice of any kind can be given without first checking with your Supervisor. Advice may only be given in writing. You must never give oral advice. (d) Before a client leaves the office, you must ensure, so far as is possible, that you have checked that all relevant information has been obtained and forms completed. (e) No correspondence of any nature can be sent out without the Advice Centre Solicitor's counter signature. (f) You must tell clients that the Centre is supervised by qualified Solicitors with practising certificates. Casework - The decision as to whether any advice on a case can be given will be made by your Supervisor in consultation with you. In the event of disagreement the Advice Centre Solicitor will make the final decision. Confidentiality - To preserve the confidentiality of the Advice Centre’s affairs, you must not receive personal visitors or personal telephone calls at the office. Discussion Meetings - In order to enable you to share your experiences with other Student Advisors you will be invited to a meeting to discuss your experience. This is an essential part of your participation in the Centre. Working together - Working in pairs is an essential part of your Advice Centre experience. It develops communication skills and confidence, and means responsibility and workloads are shared and work double-checked. 50
  51. 51. Self-evaluation - A Self-Evaluation Form must be completed and handed to the Supervisor at your evaluation meeting. Post - If you receive post you will be sent an e-mail asking you to come in and collect it from the post tray in the Centre. Timetables - All Student Advisors working in the Advice Centre must provide a copy of their most up- to-date timetable and contact address and telephone number to the Advice Centre Administrator. This is because the Centre staff may need to contact the Advisors and therefore must know where and how to do so. 2. PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL MATTERS We are unable to take any action on behalf of a client against (your institution), any of its branches, its Governors, employees, current students or any former client. The client should be referred elsewhere, after the reasons for our inability to act have been explained. Professional Responsibilities and Confidentiality: - (a) The duty of confidentiality extends to Advice Centre matters. (b) Everyone working within the Advice Centre must be familiar with the Solicitors' Practice Rules and codes of conduct on confidentiality. A copy of the rules is available in the Advice Centre - please read them. (See The Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors - The Law Society – 1999 – 8th edition). (c) Student Advisors must ensure that at all times their conduct is in accordance with the professions’ Conduct rules. This applies to all conduct – conduct of 51
  52. 52. the case, conduct when dealing with their Supervisor and Legal Advice Centre staff, and conduct as between Student Advisors. (d) A breach of professional conduct may result in the Student Advisor being removed from the Legal Advice Centre service. This is a matter for the Supervisor to decide. (e) Student Advisors must ensure that their file is managed in accordance with the Legal Advice Centre protocols. A failure to do so will be treated as a breach of the professional conduct rules. It will also mean that the file cannot be signed off by the Supervisor as closed and no Certificate of participation in the Legal Advice Centre will be issued to the Student Advisor. Supervisors and Legal Advice Centre staff can advise how relevant protocols can be met. (f) For reasons of confidentiality you must not discuss or disclose to any persons other than your student partner, your Supervisors or the Office Manager or the Administrator, matters confidential to the Advice Centre and its clients. (g) For reasons of confidentiality, files must not normally be removed from the Centre. If, in exceptional circumstances, it is necessary to take a file from the Centre, you must first obtain permission to do so from a Supervisor. (h) Your duty not to discuss or disclose to any other persons matters confidential to the Centre, its clients, or any other matters which may come to your knowledge through your work, continues after you have ceased to participate in the Advice Centre. Supervision: - (a) In order to comply with the Law Society's rules and procedures and principles of good practice, all advice given and work done by student advisers must be under the overall supervision of the Advice Centre Solicitor. (b) It is a breach of these rules to do any of the following without an Advice Centre Supervisor’s authority:- • see or contact a client; 52
  53. 53. • send out any material of any sort, whether on headed or unheaded paper, in connection with any matter the Advice Centre is actually or potentially handling, or has handled; • agree to take any other step for a client. (c) In order to comply with the Law Society's rules, all correspondence and outgoing documentation must be checked and signed by a supervising Solicitor. (d) The decision as to whether the client can be offered advice will only be undertaken with the agreement of a Supervisor, after consultation with you. (e) No individual Advisor may continue to deal with a case if it appears that he/she may have any personal involvement or vested interest in the client's problem. If any such involvement is identified, the student must consult his/her Supervisor before discussing the matter further with the client. 3. MONEY (a) We do not charge clients for our services. (b) No payment should be received from or on behalf of a client. (c) The offer of any gift by a client or any other person in connection with Advice Centre work must be referred to the Centre Solicitor. 4. ASSISTANCE UNDER THE ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT 1999 (a) We have a professional duty to inform all clients of the possible availability of the assistance under the Act (formerly known as “Legal Aid”). (b) This is covered in the Information for Clients leaflet. 53
  54. 54. 5. CLIENT CARE (a) All clients advised at the Advice Centre must be given a copy of 'Information for Clients'. This should be given to the client at the start of the first interview. The contents of the leaflet should be explained clearly to the client. (b) Clients may only be given advice in writing and only after proper consideration and research and with the approval of the Supervisor. (c) No casework can be undertaken unless the client has signed the Information for Clients Form. (d) It is essential that you complete work in accordance with the time scales set out in the Handbook or agreed with your Supervisor. You must let the Supervisor know immediately if this is not going to be possible. (e) Where an appointment for a client is made, the student advisers must keep that appointment. In the event of a Student Advisor not being able to keep an appointment, he or she must inform the Supervisor in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Handbook. I have read and accept the terms of the contract and undertake to respect the confidentiality of the Advice Centre and its clients at all times. I understand I will be removed from the Centre rota if I fail to attend a meeting with a client or any case management meeting without good reason or breach the rules of professional conduct. I undertake to read the Centre Handbook and abide by its procedures. Name of Student ………………………………………………………….. Signed ………………………………………………………….. Date ………………………………………………………….. 54
  55. 55. Information for Clients ABOUT THE ADVICE CENTRE (Your institution)’s Legal Advice Centre has been established to enable students studying at (your institution) to obtain practical legal experience. Students are not professionally qualified but will be working under the supervision of (your institution) staff. The Centre is supervised by Solicitors holding practising certificates. Other staff who may be professionally qualified will also be involved in supervision, under the general auspices of the Centre’s Solicitors. The Centre aims to provide a high standard of service similar to that offered by any Solicitors’ practice. WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE ADVICE CENTRE An appointment will be made for you to attend the Centre where you will be interviewed by two Student Advisors. The Advisors will not be able to give you any advice at that interview. After your interview the Advisors will discuss your case with a Supervisor. If at this stage it appears that the Student Advisors will be unable to give you advice, due to the nature of your case, pressure of time or complexity, you will be informed by letter. The Centre will, wherever possible, give information on other organisations or bodies which may be able to help you. If the Centre is able to offer advice you will receive a letter within three working days of your initial appointment indicating when you may expect to receive your advice. The letter of advice is normally sent to you within four weeks of the interview but if possible within ten working days. If for any reason this is not possible you will be informed before the original deadline expires. WHAT SERVICE CAN THE CENTRE OFFER? The Centre provides an advice-only service. This means that we cannot represent you in court or at any other hearing. However, where possible the Centre will offer a referral to an appropriate body or organisation. We do not offer assistance beyond initial advice, for example, letter writing or form filling. These limitations are for educational 55
  56. 56. reasons. If further advice is sought, this may be offered but with a different set of Student Advisors. WHAT WILL IT COST? The Centre does not charge for its services. However, you should be aware of the following points:-  You may be eligible for publicly-funded help and representation to pursue or defend your claim (formerly known as “Legal Aid”). The Centre can refer you to a Solicitor who may be able to obtain such assistance for you. If you are eligible to receive assistance you may be liable to pay a contribution. You may also be liable to repay your costs from any money or property recovered.  If you decide to pursue court or tribunal proceedings you may be ordered to pay the costs of your opponent if you lose your case.  The Centre cannot brief Barristers on your behalf. INSURANCE The Centre has insurance cover provided by (your institution’s) Insurers. If the Centre were negligent in the handling of your case you would be covered by this insurance and we would be under a duty to advise you of the possibility of a claim were such circumstances to arise. WHAT IF I WISH TO MAKE A COMPLAINT? We hope you will be satisfied with the service provided by the Centre. If you are unhappy please ask to see the Senior Supervising Solicitor and talk things over with her to see if you can solve the problem. However, if you do wish to complain in writing, you should address your complaint to the Office Manager. If you are dissatisfied with the response, you can request that the matter be investigated by our Head of Pro Bono Services & Clinical Education c/o the Legal Advice Centre. 56
  57. 57. STUDENT ADVISORS Your Student Advisors are: _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ I confirm that I have read the above and accept the terms set out above. Signed: ……………………………………………………………………... (CLIENT) Name of client: ……………………………………………………………………... Date: ……………………………………………………………………... 57
  58. 58. Client Details Form Staple this form to the back inside cover of the file. Shaded areas indicate where information needs to be provided at a later stage. Date case opened: Advisors: File Number: Useful Names/ Details: Matter: Name: Address: Phone Numbers: Home: Post Code: Mobile: Work: DOB: Doctor: Practice Address: NI No: Tel. No: Conflict Check: Y / N Information for clients form signed: Y / N Monthly income: Source of income: Experts: [where applicable] Counsel: Review Dates: Undertakings Given: Key Dates: Publicly Funded Work [where applicable] Grant of Public Funding: Advance Costs Info: 6 Months Cost Letter: Linked File Number: Closed File Date Issue: 58
  59. 59. Authority Form TO ADDRESS FROM ADDRESS I authorise (your institution) Legal Advice Centre to represent me in respect of my case. Signed Date Authority to the Legal Services Commission to Audit File TO LEGAL SERVICES COMMISSION REPRESENTATIVE FROM ADDRESS I consent to the disclosure by (your institution) Legal Advice Centre of my file, purely for audit purposes. Signed Date 59
  60. 60. File Summary Form Client Name: Date opened: File Number: Client Contact Numbers: Claim Number: Opponent’s Name and Number: Student names + contact numbers: Action/Event NAME Time Spent Date 60
  61. 61. Attendance Form Telephone - Incoming/Outgoing or Meeting or Conference / Note of work carried out on the case (delete as appropriate) File number: Full name of client: Attended by: Name of person spoken to: Supervisor: Tel No. Date: Start: End: Facts:* Key dates/ Deadlines: Action to be taken by client: Steps to be taken by Legal Advice Centre: Continue on a separate sheet if necessary *See attached note if the attendance is for a lengthy interview- delete as appropriate. 61
  62. 62. Receipt of Documents Form YOU ONLY NEED TO FILL THIS RECEIPT OUT IF YOU TAKE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. PLEASE NOTE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS SHOULD NOT BE RETAINED WITHOUT THE PRIOR APPROVAL OF YOUR SUPERVISOR. File Number Client Name Received from Received by Document details Date* Description** *The date that the document was sent. **The description should include by whom the document was written and to whom it was sent Signed Print name Date Acknowledgement of Return of Documents Form I, ………………………………. (insert client name), acknowledge the return of the original documents listed on the attached Receipt of Documents Form(s). Signed (dd/mm/yyyy) Print name Date Research/Task Record 62
  63. 63. File No: Name of client: Student Advisor completing task: Supervisor: Date: Research Objective or task: Research Location: (Library/Law Clinic, etc) Research Material: (Statute, Regulation, Case, Book, Article. Lexis, etc) Research Finding: Are your findings up Yes/No (delete as appropriate) to date? Further Research Required: Time spent on research: Please use a continuation sheet if necessary 63
  64. 64. File Closure sheet CLIENT’S NAME DATE FILE CLOSED: FILE NO: ALL POINTS ON THIS SHEET MUST BE COVERED WHEN A CASE YES N/A IS BEING CLOSED FOR STORAGE 1. Has the client been told the outcome of the case and any further action which the client or Law Centre will have to take in the future? 2. Has the client been advised when the case should be reviewed if appropriate? 3. Has all outstanding money in client’s account been either returned to client or accounted for? 4. Have all disbursements been paid? 5. Has the case been billed? 6. Have all original documents been returned to the client? 7. Has the client been informed that case papers will be archived and stored for six years and then destroyed? 8. Has the client been sent a letter confirming, or covering the above points? Matter Type: Divorce/Family/Property/Consumer/Welfare Benefits/Company/Litigation (delete as appropriate) NOTES Signed………………………… Signed………………….. Signed…………………. Student Advisor Student Advisor Student Advisor Signed off by………………….. Office Manager / Supervisor* delete as appropriate Once completed, please give this form to the Office Manager or the Administrator 64
  65. 65. File Number: Questionnaire for Clients Please complete this questionnaire to give us your views. This will help us improve our service to clients. Where appropriate, please mark the appropriate boxes with a cross like this . Please provide as much detail on the form as possible. This form will be optically scanned. Please use a pen with dark ink. 1. How did you know about the Legal Advice Centre? Publicity leaflet Local Library Citizens Advice Bureau Newspaper advert Other (please specify) 2. Did you consider going elsewhere for legal assistance? Yes No If yes, where did you think about going? 3. Why did you decide to use the Legal Advice Centre? 4. Before you attended your interview at the Legal Advice Centre, did you view the fact that your advisors were to be students rather than qualified lawyers as: Helpful Unhelpful Unimportant For the following three questions please rate how well we did on a scale of: 5 (very well), to 1 (very badly). 5. How clearly was the way in which the Legal Advice Centre works explained to you? 5 4 3 2 1 6. How well were you kept informed by the Legal Advice Centre about the progress of your case? 5 4 3 2 1 65
  66. 66. 7. How clearly were law and legal procedures explained to you? 5 4 3 2 1 8. How happy were you with the speed with which the Legal Advice Centre dealt with your case? 5 4 3 2 1 9. How good was the service we gave you overall? 5 4 3 2 1 10. Did you have confidence in the students advising you? Yes No Not sure 11. Would you use the Legal Advice Centre again? Yes No Not sure 12. Would you recommend the Legal Advice Centre to someone else? Yes No Not Sure 13. Is there anything we could have done better in your case? 66
  67. 67. 14. Is there anything else that would help us to improve our service? 15 What is your name? (This question is optional; you do not have to answer it) 16. Are there any other comments that you would like to make? Thank you very much for taking the time to complete this form. Please use the pre-paid envelope to return it, or you can hand it in to: (Your institution) Legal Advice Centre (address) 67
  68. 68. Student Experience Evaluation Form Please complete the questionnaire to give us your views and help us improve the education we offer to our students and the service we give to the public. Please answer each question by marking the appropriate box with a cross and write your comments in the boxes provided. Where relevant, please give a score on a scale of 5 (highest score) to 1 (lowest score). (1) Case Details Client name: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your name: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Please summarise the nature of the case (2) Legal Research To what extent did the legal research that you carried out for your case improve your legal research skills? 5 4 3 2 1 (3) Substantive Law Did your participation in Legal Advice Centre work increase your understanding of the law as discussed during the Legal Advice Centre training? 5 4 3 2 1 (4) Problem Solving Did your participation in Legal Advice Centre work increase your capacity to apply the law to practical problems? 5 4 3 2 1 (5) Ethics and Professional Responsibility Did your participation in Legal Advice Centre work increase your awareness of the ethical and professional issues affecting a lawyer in practice? 5 4 3 2 1 68
  69. 69. (6) Overall Impression How valuable was the experience of your involvement in the Legal Advice Centre? 5 4 3 2 1 (7) Your experience What did you enjoy most about participating in Legal Advice Centre work? What did you least enjoy about participating in Legal Advice Centre work? In your opinion, how might the Legal Advice Centre be improved? (8) How many hours did you spend in preparation for participation at the Legal Advice Centre? Number of hours (9) Do you feel you were adequately supported in your work at the Legal Advice Centre? (10)Would you have liked to work more independently at the Legal Advice Centre? (11) Is the workspace satisfactory? 69
  70. 70. (12)Would you value more training? (13) Has the experience been of educational value? (14)Have you any other comments to make? PLEASE RETURN THIS FORM TO YOUR SUPERVISOR AT THE EXPERIENCE EVALUATION MEETING. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. 70
  71. 71. Supervision Quality Evaluation Form (Your institution) places great importance on the quality of the supervision you receive when participating in the Legal Advice Centre and on your view of such supervision. The information that this form contains may affect your Supervisor’s career and development so please complete it as accurately and fairly as you can. Your Supervisor will also use the information on this form in order to reflect on what you found helpful about his/ her supervision and in what ways it can be improved. Please only use this form to comment on your Supervisor’s performance in supervising your participation in the Legal Advice Centre. Please mark the appropriate number in response to each question. It would be helpful if you could explain each of your answers. Thank you 1. Supervisor’s Name:_____________________________ Date:___________________ 2. How do you rate on a scale of 5 – 1 the effort/ 5 4 3 2 1 level of commitment YOU have made to the Legal Advice Centre, for example in preparation of case; attendance at meetings with supervisor; participation in the student advisor team? (5 = ‘very good’; 1 = very poor). 3. How do you view the PERFORMANCE/ APPROACH by your Supervisor in the supervision of your casework? Please mark the appropriate boxes below on a scale of 5 – 1 (5 = ‘very good’; 1 = ‘very poor’). Encouraging the participation of the Student Advisor team 5 4 3 2 1 Creating an open co-operative atmosphere in supervisory meetings 5 4 3 2 1 Providing constructive feedback on your work 5 4 3 2 1 Dealing effectively with questions in supervisory meetings 5 4 3 2 1 Making it easy for you to ask questions in supervisory meetings 5 4 3 2 1 Dealing effectively with questions you asked outside scheduled supervisory meetings 5 4 3 2 1 Being well-informed on subject matter 5 4 3 2 1 Showing enthusiasm for the subject matter of the supervision 5 4 3 2 1 71
  72. 72. Placing the subject matter of the supervision in a practical context 5 4 3 2 1 Improving your understanding of the legal process 5 4 3 2 1 Time management of the supervision 5 4 3 2 1 Managing the supervision effectively so as to enable you to derive educational benefit from your participation in the Legal Advice Centre 5 4 3 2 1 4. Taking into account your replies to question 3 above and any comments you may wish to make below, how do you rate, on a scale of 5 – 1, the QUALITY OF SUPERVISION by your supervisor overall? (5 = ‘very good’, 1 = ‘very poor’) 5 4 3 2 1 5. Please use the space below to (a) explain further if you have put 1 or 2 for any aspect of question 3 and/ or, (b) make any CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTIONS you may have for the IMPROVEMENT of supervision by the Supervisor. Please give as much detail as possible. 6. Please describe, also in the space below, any ways in which you feel the supervisor has made the Supervision and experience of participation in the Legal Advice Centre work well for you. Please give as much detail as possible. Thank you for completing this form. Please bring it with you to your evaluation meeting. 72
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  74. 74. Post-Interview Letter Private & Confidential [Date] [Name of client] [File №] [Address] Dear [name] Appointment on [day, date + time] Thank you for coming to see [Student Advisor] and [Student Advisor] at the Advice Centre. You asked advice on the following issues: 1.INSERT issues 2.etc We are now researching your case and expect to despatch our letter of advice to you by [date]. Please note that the Legal Advice Centre is an advice-only service. We are unable to take cases further and will, if relevant, refer you to other possible sources of help within the Community Legal Service. In the meantime, if you have any queries please contact [Administrator’s name] on the number below. Yours sincerely [Centre Supervisor’s name] Centre Supervisor 74
  75. 75. Advice to Client Letter Private & Confidential [Date] [Name of client] [File №] [Address] Dear [name] [SUBJECT] The facts [insert facts] Your Concerns [insert concerns] Our Advice [insert advice] Summary In summary, having provided detailed advice above, we have identified the following action available to you:- [if appropriate] We do hope that the service provided by the Legal Advice Centre was satisfactory and we would be pleased to hear if you have any comments or suggestions about the service we gave you. We encourage feedback from our clients so that their needs and concerns can be taken into account in our service delivery plans. Please find enclosed a Client Questionnaire for you to complete and return in the stamped addressed envelope. We would be grateful if you could take a few moments to complete the form and return it to us. Thank you for consulting the Advice Centre. Should you require any help in the future on any other matters, please do not hesitate to contact us. Yours sincerely [Supervisor’s name] [Student Name] [Student Name] [Student Name] Centre Supervisor Student Advisor Student Advisor Student Advisor Encs 75
  76. 76. General Letter to Third Parties [DRAFT – PLAIN PAPER, DOUBLE SPACING] [FINAL DRAFT – LETTER-HEADED PAPER, SINGLE SPACING] Name and Address of 3rd Party [Date] [File №] Dear Sirs [SUBJECT] [Insert text] Yours faithfully LEGAL ADVICE CENTRE 76
  77. 77. File Closure Letter Private & Confidential [Date] [Name of client] [File №] [Address] Dear [name] [SUBJECT] We write to confirm that your file is now closed. The Legal Advice Centre will not be taking any further steps for you, except to claim our costs under the block contract legal advice and assistance scheme from the Legal Services Commission if you received legal aid during your case. If we retained your original documents, please could you contact the Legal Advice Centre to arrange to collect them from reception.* * delete as appropriate We will keep your file for a period of six years, after which time it will be destroyed. You may have a copy of your file if you wish by making a request in writing and including the reference at the top of this letter. We confirm that we are not holding any money for you. Thank you for consulting the Advice Centre. Should you require any help in the future on any other matters, please do not hesitate to contact us. Yours sincerely [Supervisor’s name] [Student Name] [Student Name] [Student Name] Centre Supervisor Student Advisor Student Advisor Student Advisor 77