On the 28th February 2017 six final year law students within the Student Law Office (SLO) met with Robert Bourns the current President of the Law Society. Mr Bourns was on a visit to Northumbria University to enable him to see the pro-bono clinic in action and had the opportunity to meet with students from business and commercial, civil, housing and welfare firms within the SLO.
The meeting took place after introductions by all the students and a brief description of the firms that we are all in. Mr Bourns began by asking us about the type of client we see in the SLO and through discussion it was clear there is a difference within the firms from predominantly just everyday clients in housing, welfare and civil to start-up businesses/partnerships and charities within the business firms. Not only was seeing the diversity of the clinic of interest to Mr Bourns but it was useful for the students too because it illustrated to each other how different our experiences have been within the SLO. We explained the types of work we have all undertaken from drafting of contracts, criminal appeals and discrimination cases.
Students were interested to hear Mr Bourns views about how it is important to protect the vulnerable people in society who are most at risk and how ensuring criminal defendants are robustly represented helps to avoid miscarriages of justice.
Mr Bourns was particularly interested to hear how our time in the SLO had shaped our career ambitions for after graduation. The majority of students said they were still interested in pursuing a legal career but noted how difficult in the current climate it is for students to obtain the elusive training contract. The students agreed that the work we have undertaken in the SLO has been valuable experience for all our careers, we all have developed practical skills which has built on our academic knowledge.
Overall it was a particularly stimulating visit for the students involved because it allowed everyone to learn more about each other firms but also because it gave rise to discussions about pro-bono work and the impact of government cuts to funding and how this makes pro-bono work more important and necessary.
This post was written by Lauren Graham. Lauren is a final year MLaw student currently working in the business and commercial firm in the Student Law Office. On graduation Lauren has secured a graduate position within tax consultation.