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Trio of legal experts from Bradford School of Law present radical paper on post legal aid era at conference


Three lecturers at the University of Bradford School of Law have presented a paper at the Association of Law Teachers annual conference in Newcastle.

The paper, ‘The Provision of Legal Services in the Post Legal Aid Era: a Proposal for Multi-agency Collaboration between Private and Charitable Suppliers of Legal Services Coordinated by Law Schools’, aims to set out a new model for collaboration between law schools, charitable and not-for-profit providers of legal advice and the private sector law firms to tailor the provision of free legal advice to members of the public who would otherwise be unable to access it.

Written by Dr Kathryn Dutton, Robin Lister and Ian Miller, the paper aims to set out a model of research focused service delivery where university law schools co-ordinate and collaborate with a host of other providers with a view to targeting services where they are most needed.

Dr Dutton, Senior Lecturer, said: "The ALT annual conference was the ideal forum for the School of Law to test drive this research.

“The membership of the association is made up of dedicated law teachers who have a strong sense of social justice.

“Many of the conference delegates have significant experience in the provision of clinical legal education in the advice centre setting and by presenting our research paper at the conference we were able to draw upon that expertise, as well as gain valuable feedback and opinion on our model.”

The School of Law lecturers’ paper complements their work on setting up a free legal advice clinic, Justice Bradford, which sees third year law undergraduate students offer weekly legal advice sessions at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The students then provide their clients with a comprehensive written report offering advice on their legal problem.

Justice Bradford's ethos is to promote access to justice to as wide an audience as possible and the School of Law hopes that its research into the effects of legal aid cuts will influence policy at both local and national levels.

Senior Lecturer Mr Lister said: "We want to make a contribution to tackling the advice and justice deficits which affect people in Bradford, as throughout the UK. At the same time our students develop their clinical legal skills and gain first-hand insight into the civil and social justice issues exacerbated by the drastic cuts to legal aid, welfare and other sources of funding."

Justice Bradford clinic director Mr Miller, who is a Barrister at Broadway House Chambers, said: "Currently we are limited to offering only a written legal report but we plan on expanding this advice to include assistance with legal forms and applications, and possibly the attendance at court with clients in one capacity or another. Students will also involve me in legal projects carrying out research into the provision of legal services in the post legal aid world and will be involved in writing and disseminating generic legal advice to particularly vulnerable groups of the community.”

Head of the School of Law Dr Jess Guth, who also attended the ALT conference, said: “Leading lawyers from both practice and academia have long complained that the cuts in legal aid and swinging restrictions on the availability of legal aid will cause a denial of justice for whole sections of society.

“We hope that our research in this area, whilst providing a valuable education for our students and the delivery of a vital service for our local community, will also lead to a greater understanding of the wide ranging effects, both socially and economically, of these cuts.

“I am proud that our school is undertaking this new and exciting project.”

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