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Free law clinic launched for Reading through community partnership – University of Reading

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Free law clinic launched for Reading through community partnership

Release Date 16 November 2009

The Foxhill lawyers

A new law clinic for Reading, offering free professional legal advice, is being launched this week.

Based at the CommuniCare offices at Cemetery Junction, the monthly free legal surgery will provide a service to those unable to pay for legal advice in areas such as consumer, debt, employment and landlord and tenant law.

The Legal Advice Clinic is a joint initiative between the University of Reading's School of Law, top legal firm Shoosmiths, East Reading advice centre CommuniCare and LawWorks,,a charity which supports the delivery of voluntary legal services by lawyers

Funding to set up the initiative comes from funds raised by staff of the University of Reading Law School staff who participated in the 2009 London Legal sponsored walk

Staff from Shoosmiths will be providing the pro bono (ie free) legal advice at the clinic and will be supported by law students from the University. CommuniCare will host and manage the service and LawWorks has provided assistance with the setup. The Law School will also be developing a series of free advice leaflets on common areas of law for the use of CommuniCare in their day to day advice work.

Professor Patricia Leopold, University of Reading, said: "The University School of Law is keen to encourage students to use the skills they acquire as law students to assist in the community. Working on this project will provide an additional opportunity for students to use these skills and to develop new clinical skills. We are delighted to have been involved in helping to establish the clinic."

Richard Harrison of LawWorks, said: "This is the first legal advice clinic initiative, LawWorks has been involved with in Reading and it has been a pleasure working CommuniCare, Shoosmiths and the University's School of Law to help get it off the ground. The clinic will help people identify their legal problem and provide some initial legal advice and guidance on appropriate next steps. "

Jill Davies of Shoosmiths said: "It is part of Shoosmiths' culture that wherever possible we will make a contribution to the communities around us, and this presents the perfect opportunity to do that, while at the same time demonstrating the professionalism with which a Top 30 law firm delivers legal advice."

Sarah Mayhew of CommuniCare said: "The law clinic is a very valuable addition to the services we provide in our endeavour to respond to local need."

The clinic will be held monthly on the first Thursday of the month, starting on Thursday 3 December, from 5-7pm. Access to the free service is by appointment by calling CommuniCare on 0118 926 3941 or by email at advice@communicare.org.uk, putting Law Clinic in the subject line.

ENDS

Further press information from James Barr, University of Reading press office, 0118 378 7115

Notes to editors:

University of Reading School of Law

The Law School is rated as among the top dozen Law Schools in the country. The University has a a very active Pro Bono programme in the School of Law. Students are encouraged and supported to give up their time to train to offer volunteer mediation and legal advice. The University already works very closely with a number of organisations such as Resolve and CAB and are very proud that so many of our students commit to the lengthy training courses and provide such a professional service as volunteers once they are qualified.

www.reading.ac.uk/law

CommuniCare

Communicare is a an advice, information and support centre operating in East Reading, offering confidential and free advice on a wide range of issues, from housing to welfare rights. The charity's services are accredited by CLS quality mark. www.communicare.org.uk

Shoosmiths

Shoosmiths is a UK top 30 national law firm with 114 partners and more than 1,200 personnel at offices in Basingstoke, Birmingham, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Nottingham, Reading and Southampton. Clients include household name Blue Chip companies, leading financial institutions, public and private sector organisations, and foreign-owned corporates. Shoosmiths won the billing and fees category at the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards 2009 for its risk reward fee arrangement with client Hewlett-Packard. Shoosmiths is a member of the World Services Group - a global association of leading legal and service professionals - and an Equal Opportunities Employer, coming top of a diversity survey conducted by the Black Solicitors' Network. Its national charity partner for 2008 - 2010 is Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity.

www.shoosmiths.co.uk

LawWorks

LawWorks is the operating name of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group and is an independent charity with a mission to support, promote and encourage a commitment to pro bono across the solicitors' profession. It also helps individuals and community groups to access free legal advice.

Solicitors across England and Wales have always provided free or reduced cost legal advice and assistance to those individuals who are ineligible for legal aid from the Legal Services Commission, but who are unable to reasonably afford legal fees. Where those services are provided free of charge it is described as being pro bono.

LawWorks is a membership-based organisation whose members are law firms, in house legal departments, individuals and other organisations interested in contributing to the provision of legal pro bono work in England and Wales. LawWorks provides practical support, advice and information to them through a range of projects.

The LawWorks Clinics project provides a free consultancy service to help establish legal advice clinics staffed by volunteer lawyers (or law students under the supervision of qualified staff/volunteers) which provide pro bono (i.e. free) legal advice and assistance to members of the public who cannot afford to pay for such help. There are currently over 90 clinics across the country which they support.

For more information go to www.lawworks.org.uk or contact Graham Bucknall, Communications Manager, on graham.bucknall@lawworks.org.uk.

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