Kent Law Clinic
What is the Kent Law Clinic?
The Law Clinic is a partnership between students, academics and solicitors and barristers in practice locally. It has two objects: to provide a public service for local people who need legal advice and representation but cannot afford to pay for it, and to enhance the education of students in the Kent Law School through direct experience of legal practice.
How can students get involved?
Law students have the opportunity of working in the Kent Law Clinic. In the Law Clinic students have the full conduct of cases on behalf of clients - under the close supervision of qualified lawyers. They can deepen and broaden their knowledge of law through the experience of working on live cases and through a structured reflection on that legal practice.
Students can also develop specific legal skills. The casework requires them to undertake such tasks as interviewing, legal research, corresponding, drafting statements of case, negotiating and appearing as advocates before the Employment Tribunal, the County Court and other forums. Work carried out in the Law Clinic can count towards a student's final degree in law, and there are many ways that students can get involved.
Student participation takes place at a number of levels. There is in the Clinic a culture and atmosphere of enthusiastically engaged involvement with the practice of law, and with the legal issues that arises in the world beyond the university. Students may:
- have the full conduct of cases (under supervision) for clients of the Clinic
- attend a weekly Clinic meeting to hear about and discuss new cases
- act as a receptionist for an hour a week in one of the Clinic offices
- attend one of five weekly sessions at which volunteer practising lawyers advise clients
- become a co-ordinator of an advice session working with the local volunteer lawyers
- be elected as Chair, or to the student committee, or to the management committee
- participate in meetings, debates and projects on current legal issues
- take the 2nd/3rd year 'Clinical Option' module as part of LLB curriculum
- have their clinical work assessed as part of their final marks in other modules too
Working in the clinic involves hard work but it is really rewarding, especially when you hear about your fellow students returning from court winning cases on their own and seeing the amount of compensation they have won for their client… another thank-you card to go up alongside the hundreds we have received.
The legal advisors listed generously volunteer their time to advise clients (and work with students) at the Clinic Advice Sessions on Monday evenings, and also to provide much welcome assistance to Clinic staff. They are mostly solicitors and barristers in practice locally, but some are based in London. The Kent Law Clinic could not function as it does without their contribution.
Please note: our volunteer advisors are only contactable through the Law Clinic. They are not able to offer any follow up advice and are not contactable outside the Advice Sessions.
Members of the Public wishing to contact the Clinic
Members of the public seeking help from the Law Clinic should telephone for an appointment (01227 823311, October to March inclusive).
The Law Clinic provides advice in the following areas in particular - employment, housing, benefits, contract, consumer, negligence, nuisance, family, immigration, asylum, planning and public law matters generally. Visit our Advice Sessions page for details of Clinic advice sessions in the local community. Help and advice is also available from the Clinic's specialist teams.
The Clinic has received numerous awards recognising and celebrating its work, including:
- 2014 The Lawyer Award for 'Ethical Initiative of the Year' presented by Joanna Lumley at The Lawyer Awards 2014
- 2012 The LawWorks Attorney General’s Award for the Best New Pro Bono Activity for its 'Access to Land' project presented by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC, MP at the House of Commons
- 2008 Staff and students from the Clinic were presented with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace, for ‘enriching the academic study of law through a casework service to the community’
- 2007 'Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community' prize at the Times Higher Education Awards
- 1998 The Clinic was joint winner of the 'Outstanding Contribution to Civil Justice' award in the Times/JUSTICE Awards, and were presented with the award by the Rt Hon Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer in 11 Downing Street.
Westgate on Sea: Village Green Victory
Kent Law Clinic, the University’s pro-bono legal service, has helped residents in Westgate-on-Sea with their bid to secure village green (TVG) status.
The full story <here>
Victory for the Villagers! Four public rights of way confirmed
The Law Clinic successful represented villagers at Adisham in Kent, with the outcome that four public rights of way – three footpaths and one bridleway - through ancient woodland adjoining the village were confirmed following a hard fought campaign lasting many years, in a legal case which made the national news.
Local residents David and Sigrid Leidig applied in March 2005 for the rights of way to be added to the definitive map of the area. Over 100 villagers provided written evidence in support of the application. In August 2009 Kent County Council made Orders in favour of the applicants, but the owner of most of the woodland, Mr Timothy Steel of Norton, Faversham, objected to the Orders, and an Inspector sat at a Public Inquiry lasting over six days in the School and the Village Hall at Adisham in August and September 2010. Over 30 witnesses gave evidence, including 25 for the applicant and Lord and Lady Hawarden who also own part of the woodland for the Objector.
A team of law students (over a dozen in all, including Klara Holdstock, Katarzyne Burdzy, Marta Konieczna, Nathan Klein and Jim Kapches) at the Kent Law Clinic in the University of Kent, helped the applicants and the witnesses in their preparation of evidence for the submission to the Kent County Council and later for the Inquiry. Director of the Law Clinic, John Fitzpatrick (pictured above) said 'The students and I are absolutely delighted for the villagers. After much troubling uncertainty in recent years they will now be able to walk through these beautiful ancient woodlands in peace.'
The four Orders, in relation to different tracks through the woods, which were originally made in favour of the applicants in August 2009 under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 were confirmed by the Inspector.
Unfair dismissal and racial discrimination
In 2010, the Law Clinic secured an award of nearly £44,000 for a local man who was unfairly dismissed and was the victim of racial discrimination.
The man had been employed for over two years in a café in Ramsgate, Kent, when he heard himself being referred to with a racial slur. He complained to the owner but nothing was done. Shortly afterwards, however, our client was dismissed following an allegation that he had stolen money from the café. He was acquitted in court of that charge, and the Law Clinic helped him bring proceedings against his former employer, over the dismissal and the slur.
Third year Law Clinic students Sahar Zomorodi and Erik Homenick interviewed the man and prepared the case, and Sahar represented the client herself at one of the hearings before the Tribunal. The judge awarded him nearly £44,000 as compensation for his unfair dismissal and for the racial insult. Afterwards the client said ‘I feel a great weight off my shoulders, and I feel that my life can start again.’ Sahar Zomorodi added, ‘For him justice has finally been done. He was very brave to stand up to the abuse he suffered, and should not have been dismissed.’