The Staffordshire University legal advice clinic, or SULACis an advice clinic where Staffordshire University law studentssupervised by legal practitioners includingmembers of the law school staff, provide a free legal advice serviceto members of the public on a variety of legal issues. The clinic is modeled on life in a solicitor’s officegiving students the opportunity to dip their toe in the waterto find out what legal practice is really all about. I think in today’s society it’s an amazing opportunityto gain skills that you can put forwardinto your work life, for the rest of your life, and I thinklaw is an amazing subject to do that withwe’ve seen the University invest in our futuresand we apply these skills not only in the class, or in examsor coursework, but we can apply them toreal life scenarios, so it’s an amazing opportunity. Students, it seems to me, will have a number of benefits. The first is that they will have anopportunity to apply the knowledge that they’ve acquired inthe classroom to a practical legal situation. This is important. No client ever comes in to see a solicitor to ask them about a contractualproblem. They come in to tell you about that problem and then you have to decide whatarea of law applies. They will also improve skills such as drafting because that will be dealing withthe preparation of an attendance note for example,or indeed the letter of advice. They’ll also have to do research becausethe advice that they have to give will have to reflect the law as it currentlystands. A point that would be checked obviously by their supervising solicitor. They will also learn to work as part of a team because they’ll be workingin groups of threes with all of the steps they will be doing and they will also have to operate professionally. The point is that lots of clients trying to be very emotional when they come inand the students will need to be able to detach themselves emotionallyfrom the client, but still provide them with support. The benefits to the clients seem to me to be fairly obvious, the first isthe opportunity to get free legal advice which is all too rare these days. But SULAC will also be advising in a areas of law where it is either goingto be very difficult to obtain advice in private sectorand will also be targeting clients who wouldn’t be able to affordto pay for solicitors to advise them. And the final benefit is that of course the work,because it is signed up off by qualified solicitors,the client will be comfortable in knowing that the qualityof the advice is good.

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