FIRST class legal advice

SLO FIRST Face to Face 2

L-R, Charlotte Windebank, James Warnock, Caroline Theobald, Jaimie Hill and Victoria Gleason

At Northumbria Law School’s award winning Student Law Office, students are exposed to working with real clients including dynamic local businesses, under the supervision of qualified solicitors.

Current law Students James Warnock and Jaimie Hill have recently been assisting one such company, FIRST Face to Face Ltd, by providing it with free legal advice and documentation at an important stage in its development. FIRST is the brainchild of founder Charlotte Windebank and was set up in 2014 with the aim of establishing a network of business, industry and academia to promote young people’s future employment and enterprise opportunities.

The company has been going from strength to strength and Charlotte’s entrepreneurial spark has recently been recognised by Maserati and the Centre for Entrepreneurs as she was listed in the Maserati 100 – a list of the most successful business leaders actively supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.

FIRST provides a networking environment in which business professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs can establish vital connections, as the company’s motto stresses, “all new business starts with a conversation”.  The company has worked to deliver exciting projects and events to a wide range of clients and partners and also works closely with established local networking business Bridge Club, headed up by Caroline Theobald who is also a director of FIRST.

One recent FIRST project involves working  with ‘NEETS’ (Young Persons Not in Education, Employment or Training) in conjunction with Sunderland City Council, and aims to get 16-18 year olds interested in a career in IT. Another involves FIRST providing mentoring support to NUOVO, Northumbria University’s Enterprise Society.

With FIRST going through an important stage of growth and development, Charlotte thought the company would benefit from obtaining some legal advice and a contact recommended that she get in touch with the Student Law Office at Northumbria University. The Student Law Office provides free legal advice to the public in a range of different legal areas including business and commercial law.

Charlotte said of the service:

“The Student Law Office was engaged to provide FIRST with advice about branding and intellectual property, its website terms and conditions and its ongoing filing and administrative requirements. Given the strong social media and networking focus of the business it was great that the students were able to work closely with FIRST to ensure the website terms were robust whilst fitting with the overall ethos of the company. I was really impressed with the service the Student Law Office provided”.

Victoria Gleason, the qualified solicitor supervising the students’ work added:

“It is great that James and Jaimie have had the opportunity to work with such an inspiring business and to put their legal knowledge into practice. I know they have found it great preparation for their legal careers and that Charlotte has even been kind enough to provide some networking and careers advice to them in return. I think this collaboration between the Student Law Office and FIRST highlights that the North East is a brilliant place to study, work and start a business.”

Sole trading!

Neil Robinson (The Custom Underground), Elaine Campbell & Natalie Baldwin (Northumbria Law School)

Neil Robinson (The Custom Underground), Elaine Campbell & Natalie Baldwin (Northumbria Law School)

We’re incredibly lucky to be able to work with creative entrepreneurs at the Student Law Office.  The energy and inventiveness of the creative sector captures the imagination of our students, who are thrilled to be able assist those businesses with free advice and documentation.

One such business is The Custom Underground which was launched in April 2013 by Neil Robinson, creating and designing bespoke shoes.

According to Neil, the business was born from a ‘moment of madness’ after deciding to doodle on a pair of plimsolls he was about to throw out. Since then it has quickly caught the eye of consumers, including a number of UK celebrities, and due to its soaring popularity he expanded his range to include t-shirts, hats and jackets as well as unique, one-off products.

With a growing consumer base seeking his bespoke products, Neil was keen to develop a tailored set of terms and conditions for his customers and was referred to the Student Law Office at Northumbria University. We were only too happy to help.

The entrepreneur, who lives in Stockton-On-Tees, said: “The Custom Underground has been really successful in quite a short space of time. I have had orders from the cast of The Only Way is Essex, members of dance group Diversity, and prominent UK DJs which has been amazing and really helped raise the profile of my work.

“The nature of my business, with bespoke and made-to-order products, meant I needed tailored guidelines so I was referred to the Student Law Office at Northumbria University.

“The help I received from the team there was fantastic. They understood exactly what I was looking for and they were great to work with, helping me to create a set of terms and conditions that covered everything from personalised designs and intellectual property to pricing, payment, returns and refunds.”

He explained: “I am really grateful to the Student Law Office – until recently I didn’t even realise this type of service existed. It’s brilliant that it can help people like me who are just starting out and don’t have a huge amount of money to pay for these types of services. I would certainly recommend it and I won’t hesitate to get in touch in the future as my business takes off.”

He continued: “I am still a one man band at the moment – everything about the business I do myself, including the website, orders and the designing of the products. I live with my partner and our two-and-a-half year old son so there is not much time for sleep.”

The custom and online elements to Neil’s business meant that standard terms and conditions wouldn’t offer the appropriate cover. More detailed and in-depth terms were required and it was important that we worked with Neil to ensure they were robust while fitting with the overall style of his website. Neil worked with our student trainee, Natalie Baldwin, who qualifies as a solicitor in September. We are thrilled that Neil was happy with the service we offered and we are looking forward to working with him again in the future.

For more information about our work with The Custom Underground, please visit: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/news/2014/07/bespoke-law-service-for-bespoke-north-east-business/