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Centre for Access to Justice

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UCL Laws has been a leader in access to justice and the incorporation of casework and social justice awareness into the law degree programmes we offer. Through undergraduate and graduate modules, the Centre provides legal assistance to members of the local community while giving students an opportunity to gain hands on experience in meeting legal needs. 

Courses

Access to Justice and Community Engagement (LLB)

Our undergraduate clinical course examines the fundamentals of access to justice from both a theoretical and practical perspective. During seminars throughout the year students confront a body of research on the difficulties of using legal services, be it due to exclusion from the legal process, lack of funds, lack of awareness of rights or lack of faith in the justice system. Students contextualise their critique in the changing landscape of legal aid and legal services and also reflect on relevant aspects of legal professionalism and ethics.

Alongside their seminars, students conduct supervised casework in employment, education, or social welfare law. The key objective of the course is to afford students the opportunity to place substantive law within a relevant social, economic and political context.  

They apply their knowledge of law to real client cases and, in doing so,  are exposed to ethical-social values instrumental to the practice of law. In ‘accessing’ the justice system on behalf of clients, it is hoped that students will confront the question of what the lawyer’s role is, or should be, within the justice system and ultimately consider what type of lawyer they want to be.

Access to Justice: Theory and Practice (LLM)

This course explores contemporary issues related to the ability of the public to access legal advice, respresentation, or 'justice' more broadly within the legal system. Students confront a body of research on the difficulties of using legal services, be it due to explusion from the legal processes, lack of funds, lack of awareness of rights or lack of faith in the justice system. 

This course is interdisciplinary in its exploration of issues of both law and social policy and draws out the links between legal and social problems, as well as the obstacles to getting legal advice and the potential remedies at both grassroots and strategic levels. With a contextual approach, a key focus is on tracing the impact of changes to legal aid funding and exploring the policy rhetoric and the public and legal sectors' response to these reforms. Students explore both leading empirical research in the field as well as in depth practical case studies of recent strategic litigation with reference to access to justice and Article 6 ECHR. The course runs in partnership with leading NGOs in order to incorporate a group action research project relevant to pertinent access to justice issues. 

In order to gain further realistic and worthwhile exposure to access to justice issues, students on the course are afforded opportunities to work on UCL CAJ projects and clinics in an extra-curricular pro bono capacity. 

Please see the UCL Faculty of Laws website for more information.

UCL Dual Degree Programme with HKU

Students on the UCL/HKU LLB dual degree at UCL undertake a placement in the UCL Centre for Access to Justice in their first year of study as a curricular component of their degree programme. Alongside working on an allocated project, students undertake seminars on access to justice issues and engage in a process of guided critical reflection on their experience. Placement activities include working in the UCL Integrated Legal Advice Clinic in East London and public legal educaiton initiatives in London schools. 

Please see the UCL Faculty of Laws website for more information.