Law students help Citizens Advice Bureau

Vulnerable people across North and Mid Wales are to get free face-to-face legal advice thanks to a £260,000 partnership between local Citizens Advice services, law firms and Bangor university.

The North and Mid Wales Law clinic. Pictured (L/R) Alison Mawhinney head of Law school at Bangor university, Jackie Blackwell CEO of citizens advice ynys Mon, Lesley Powell CEO of citizens advice Denbighshire and   Dr Sarah Nason Director of clinical legal education at Bangor Law school.         Picture Mandy Jones
The North and Mid Wales Law clinic. Pictured (L/R) Alison Mawhinney head of Law school at Bangor university, Jackie Blackwell CEO of citizens advice ynys Mon, Lesley Powell CEO of citizens advice Denbighshire and Dr Sarah Nason Director of clinical legal education at Bangor Law school. Picture Mandy Jones

Organisers say it will help the region deal with what is being described as "a tsunami of cases" over the next months as the pandemic makes for a perfect storm ofdomestic and workplace problems.

It will see law students from Bangor University overseen by experts from legal firms helping clients deal with a variety of issues.

The project, led nationally by the Access to Justice Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Justice through the Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant, uses the reach of the internet to provide legal guidance to people across more than half of Wales.

The focus is on Family, Community Care and Employment and covers everything from domestic violence through workplace issues to caring for elderly relatives.

Jackie Blackwell, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ynys Mon, said: "The Access to Justice Foundation approached us because we have a track record of working in partnership and Citizens Advice have offices in each of the seven counties and over 300 staff and volunteers to help signpost clients in the right direction.

"We also have the expertise to deliver this advice through our partners at Bangor University's School of Law and at over 30 law firms from across North and Mid Wales.

"Because of the pandemic we have put systems in place so that we can deliver this as a virtual law clinic, putting people in face to face contact with legal experts regardless of where they live. Due to internet technology we are now more accessible across the region than ever before."

The £260,000 share of the Access To Justice Foundation grant will pay for three full-time specialist caseworkers and an administrative post with the legal expertise coming from supervisors from the participating law firms and

the law students from Bangor University.

Dr Sarah Nason, Director of Clinical Legal Education at Bangor Law School, said there were huge benefits for clients trying to cope with problems made worse by the pandemic and for students learning how the law works at the sharp end.

She said: It brings together partners with extensive on the ground experience of advice provision and provides a bespoke and really well supported clinical legal education pathway for our students developing their legal and people

skills, and giving them invaluable real experience that will greatly enhance their employability prospects in future."

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