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School of Law teams up with GMB Union on pioneering project


Three people stood up behind three other people who are sat at a table

The School of Law at the University of Bradford is partnering with the GMB (North East, Yorkshire and Humber region) to provide its students with valuable experience around employment law issues.

Students will act as accompanying representatives for union members at employee disciplinary hearings where such members do not have a workplace representative. Students who participate in the project will complete an initial intensive training course delivered by both the GMB and the School of Law.

Professor Engobo Emeseh, Head of the School of Law at the University of Bradford, said: “We are excited to be partnering with GMB Union on this unique initiative.  

“We thank the union for working with us on this bespoke offering which expands the opportunities available to our students. This affirms the School’s commitment to providing a holistic student-centred approach to nurturing the innate talent of our students and ensuring that they have the requisite skills and networks to be competitive in the challenging legal market.”

Three people stood up behind two other people at the front who are also stood up shaking hands with each other

The partnership will work through the School’s Law Clinic, Justice Bradford, providing a unique opportunity for students to gain experience around employment law while providing a much-needed service to employees who require support. This aligns with the School’s strategy and the Law Clinic’s strapline, ‘delivering education through public service’.

The project started as a pilot in 2023 and saw a group of 20 School of Law students sign up for the training course and then register as GMB Accompanying Representatives. The partnership has now been formally established and the next intake of students for the project will start their training soon.

Joanne Warne, a second year student, who took part in the pilot and has had the opportunity of accompanying a number of union members to various disciplinary meetings, said: “I have been able to use my advocacy skills and apply what I have learnt in class in real terms. 

Employment law is of particular interest to me along with public law and this experience has given me a comprehensive insight into potential future careers

Joe Wheatley, a University of Bradford alumni after graduating in Law – LLB (Hons) in 2019 was instrumental in initiating this project. He obtained experience in the Law Clinic in his final year as a student and also acted as an accompanying representative as a student before going on to work in trade union movement as an organiser for the GMB.

He said: “This innovative project gives students the opportunity to learn more about workplace rights and develop their employability skills while earning some money.”

Three people sat behind a wooden desk in a room

Students are paid an honorarium per representation as well as travel expenses.

Peter Davies, GMB Regional Senior Officer, and Prof Amir Sharif, the Dean of the Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Bradford, represented the respective institutions at the official signing of the partnership. They both expressed their delight at this partnership, the first of its kind between the GMB and a university-based law school, a historic day for both organisations.

Prof Sharif added: “The School of Law continues to innovate and develop its connections with practice for the benefit of students. 

“I am delighted to support this initiative, which I believe will be the first of its kind in collaboration with the GMB – enabling students to learn key skills critical to being a future lawyer. 

“This collaboration supports the objectives of the Fair Work Charter which we as a University have supported West Yorkshire Combined Authority on.”