A law school says it is set to become the first university to be granted the status of an alternative business structure, enabling it to become the legal equivalent of a teaching hospital. 

Nottingham Law School, part of Nottingham Trent University, confirmed in a statement today that it has applied to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for an ABS licence.

If granted, the status will give the school’s newly expanded legal advice centre a unique opportunity to not only teach law but place students in the environment of a working legal practice.

The centre is already set to take on more than 180 pro bono cases in 2014-15 in areas of the law including employment, housing, and business and intellectual property.

The work of the centre not only includes student work on cases, but also local community outreach projects, a miscarriage of justice project, public legal education projects and overseas placements, the university said. 

Nick Johnson (pictured), director of the Nottingham Law School legal advice centre, said the ABS will enable students to have hands-on experience of practising law.

‘Students at all levels of the law school will be able to gain experience of professional practice in the same way that medical students currently do at teaching hospitals,’ he said. ‘Ultimately, our students will be working in a fully regulated organisation as an integral part of their studies within the law school.’

ABS licences were first granted in 2012 and the option has been taken up by trade unions, insurance firms, local authorities and accountancy firms. This application is believed to be the first by a university.

In June, Nottingham Law School will host a three-day conference on legal education and access to justice featuring speakers from across the world.