The UCL Centre for Access to Justice convenes multiple projects that allow our students to develop their personal and profession legal skills, all while giving back to the community.
You can find out more about how students have got involved with previous CAJ projects by reading the student testimonials below. At CAJ we're dedicated to ensuring our students are able to volunteer on projects where they're able to use their developing legal skills to help the community, and particularly individuals and marginalised groups who find it difficult to access legal advice and representation.
"CAJ was definitely a reason for applying at UCL, and indeed I was amazed by how many new pro bono opportunities were introduced this year. It definitely lived up to expectations!"
I chose to undertake a pro-bono project as part of my studies, because giving back to the community is something I have always been interested in and I believe to be very important. What I enjoyed the most about my internship at Migrants Organise was getting to meet all these amazing clients and working to make their daily lives just a bit happier and safer. The advice I would give to a prospective student thinking of getting involved with this project, is to be open minded, and willing to learn. CAJ was definitely a reason for applying at UCL, and indeed I was amazed by how many new pro bono opportunities were introduced this year. It definitely lived up to expectations!
Niki Hadjivasiliou, LLM Student
"I wanted to get involved with pro bono projects because I felt that their motivating aim was to help people (especially vulnerable people), which is why I decided to pursue a legal career in the first place..."
I wanted to get involved with pro bono projects because I felt that their motivating aim was to help people (especially vulnerable people), which is why I decided to pursue a legal career in the first place. I have been volunteering with a Citizens Advice Bureau, which gives people free advice on and helps them tackle their legal problems, and with the charity Z2K, which provides free legal representation to those who cannot afford it. These roles are incredibly rewarding, and have also given me a useful opportunity to practise case preparation, advocacy and interview skills.
Omar Sabbagh, LLM Student
"I highly recommend it to acquire invaluable practical experience that not many other placements offer, especially in the first years of an LLB"
Volunteering at RDSAS has greatly helped me understand the legal procedures and interactions that exist beyond the theory of the classroom. It has allowed me to refine my research skills as it requires me to delve into legal domains I was previously unaware of. Every case is different, so there is always new research to be done. I learned how to take case notes, to draft advice letters and to be concise and clear to facilitate client's understanding. I get to broaden my legal knowledge and interact with a wide variety of social issues. Overall, it gives me a good insight of the type of legal work that can be expected after university.
Eva Kloppenborg, LLB Law with French Law Student
"You are given lots of responsibility very early on which makes the placement really exciting. You are also able to see the case through from beginning to end"
The opportunity to engage in pro bono work is now something that is essential for me when researching law firms. The placement has been incredibly rewarding as I have been able to assist in providing advice to clients going through an extremely tough period. It is a great privilege to be able to work on real-life cases and it has given me an insight into the complex issues surrounding rare dementia. The nature of the cases has also helped to build my emotional resilience. I have also been able to develop invaluable skills for legal applications which has really benefited me. I was given training on how to behave during client meetings, how to conduct legal research efficiently and how to write advice letters. It is really beneficial to be able to hone these skills whilst being supported by the solicitor.
Charlotte Kent, LLB Student
"The placement is a perfect opportunity for students to work in a team of like-minded individuals and have a potentially life-changing impact..."
I have gained an appreciation for the kind of concerns prospective law students have when it comes to studying law, and how their resolutions can have a profound effect on demystifying it. At one point, I found myself struggling to properly answer a question about the distinction between the social aspects of life at university as opposed to during a legal apprenticeship. It made me appreciate how crucial it is that secondary school students understand the academic options available to them and that we, as law students, are well-equipped to help them understand this not just based on our own experiences, but also by considering what best suits them.
Eren Göknil I'Anson, LLB Student
"You learn a lot not only about the law, but also about yourself from designing the session materials with your teammates and reflecting upon your own journey which brought you to UCL Law"
This placement has allowed me to develop my presentation skills, specifically I have learnt how to break down complex legal concepts and be creative in terms of lesson planning. Moreover, I have honed my collaborative skills through working alongside two other law students. I have found it extremely rewarding to share my personal experiences regarding the challenges I have encountered in law school and how I discovered my passion for law. I remember how daunting the university application process was for me, therefore I am glad that I can contribute in some way to help make that difficult period of time easier for students at City & Islington College.
Zenia Wong, UCL-HKU Dual LLB Programme Student
"It's a great way to learn about how a charity that gives legal advice works. Volunteering here would give you a solid grasp of administrative skills, speaking to clients directly, and coordinating tasks with others"
Volunteering under their legal advice service has taught me so much about the way charities like Working Families function. As a volunteer, I sort the advice inbox, anonymize and sort queries that come in through the website, and input client details into the case management system. Through this, I learned about the communication that Working Families have to maintain with other organizations, how tasks are assigned to individuals based on their expertise, and about the policy issues that Working Families are focused on changing. I also learned how to manage these administrative tasks, a skill I would not have learned otherwise. Aside from, learning about the work that Working Families do, I have learned about the kinds of employment law issues that working parents face. Reading through queries on the website showed me just how meaningful the work at Working Families is, and how free legal advice services have a strong impact on people's lives.
Annika Melwani, LLB Student
"If you have a chance to get involved with the legal clinic, I thoroughly recommend it! Volunteering at the clinic is an unparalleled opportunity to get involved with the practical side of law and make a real difference to people’s lives"
Working at the clinic has given me invaluable insight into the real issues faced by ordinary people on a day-to-day basis, which has helped bring alive the theoretical subjects that we spend every day studying. Seeing the difference that the law can make has ignited my interest in social justice and human rights law, which I now want to focus on after graduation. While working at the clinic allowed me to gain legal writing and advocacy skills, the key things I have learnt from my peers and colleagues are the importance of passion, empathy and human connection. Our clients often come to us confused, frustrated, and upset and I have seen first-hand how a smile and a kind word can go a long way. Having the unique opportunity to confront the ethical and moral issues that lawyers deal with every day at such an early stage has helped to shape my approach to the law and I’m confident it will make me a better lawyer in the future!
Madura Lokesh, LLB Student
"My time at HMSC has given me an understanding of systematic and institutional issues that I can use to inform future work and applications"
This placement has taught me how closely tied social justice issues are to each other; it's important to have an awareness of issues related to housing, social services and welfare when working in immigration law. The team at HMSC are very responsive, and although I was given the space and responsibility to learn and work on your own, supervision and help was available when needed. If I needed to know who to contact, or what to ask, I was easily able to collaborate with others to find out. Working here has improved my ability to deal with complicated issues in an emotionally sensitive way, teaching me to ask questions effectively, and listen empathetically to better understand the situation of a visitor. I have also developed a better understanding of how the Legal Aid Agency, the Home Office and Social Services interact.
Alvi Sattar, LLM Human Rights Law Student