Sheffield Hallam University has created its own law firm, SHU Law, which it says will give students ‘real life work experience’ during their studies. The university claims to be the first to offer a law degree that incorporates work experience into every year of the course.
Professor Elizabeth Smart, the university’s head of law, has set up the firm with the help of two solicitors who will work for the firm full time. They are; Sally Mallinson-Ayres, a personal injury specialist who qualified in 2003 and Rebecca Draper, a commercial dispute resolution solicitor who has previously worked at international firms DLA Piper and Clyde & Co.
SHU law said it plans to work collaboratively with other local law firms and that all students will be fully supervised and trained.
In their first-year students will undertake six-weeks’ ethics and induction training and in their second and third years will work on contentious, non-contentious, public legal education, practice policy and research and law in practice.
Smart said: ‘By placing our students at the centre of a live client clinical environment we are creating a unique learning opportunity that’s reflective of real-life practice. Legal education is nothing without a strong dose of commercial acumen.’
The firm was licensed by the SRA on 7 January. The university has converted one of its buildings into an office which includes a reception, interview rooms, call centre, back-office and lecture room where students will work on cases.
The idea of allowing students to give advice is not new. At London South Bank University a drop in legal advice clinic is staffed by students but who are supervised by trained solicitors. Students give advice on areas of law including housing and employment. However, the clinic is a drop-in service and does not take the form of an actual law firm.
SHU Law will open on 27 February 2019.