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The law student volunteers making a difference to their local community

Steve Ballinger

Sarah Gibson

Student
University of Kent
Steve Ballinger

Summer Prior

Student
University of Kent

​This blog and video are part of a project by Universities UK to demonstrate the impact of universities on individuals, the economy and society

Kent Law Clinic at the University of Kent is a partnership between students, academics, and local solicitors and barristers. It provides legal services for local people who need advice and representation but cannot afford to pay for it. At the same time it gives Kent's law students valuable direct experience of legal practice to feed into their studies.

On 6 October Kent Law Clinic officially opened its new building, after a three-year fundraising campaign by the university and its students.

Here, two Kent law students, Sarah Gibson and Summer Prior, reflect on what volunteering and helping to provide this important service to their local community means to them.

 

Giving something back to the community

I'm Sarah and I'm a fourth-year law and English literature student from the University of Kent. I've spent the last year as part of the student group fundraising for the new Wigoder Building for Kent Law School. As a student volunteering society we've managed to raise £35,000 by doing everything from skydives to Law Balls.

The Law Clinic does such amazing work, offering pro-bono legal advice to people who need it most – and giving students the chance to be part of real-life cases at the same time. The new building has triple the space for student volunteers, which means we can offer triple the help – something which everyone involved with the clinic is very excited about!

I'm so proud to have been part of this campaign, raising money not just to enhance the quality of education for future students, but also to give something back to the community I've called home for the last four years.

Being part of this cause has united students and staff. So much hard work and enthusiasm has gone into getting us to this point, with Baroness Hale of Richmond cutting the ribbon with all of the benefactors who made this possible here to see it. Although I'm sad that the fundraising is over, I know we're all so excited for the next chapter of the Kent Law Clinic's story to begin.


 

Getting practical experience of our future profession

I'm Summer and I'm a second-year law student at the University of Kent. As soon as I began studying here, I became involved in the Law Clinic and quickly became aware of how important it is to both students and the local community. I volunteered as a receptionist for my first year, and also went to advice sessions where I really got to see what the clinic does.

Lawyers volunteer their time to help people who are in extremely difficult situations but cannot access legal aid for a variety of reasons.

As a law student this experience is also invaluable to me. It allows me and my fellow students to gain a practical insight into the profession that we are hoping to go into. The opening of the new Wigoder Building is only going to help to continue the amazing work that has already been done by the clinic, and at the official opening it was great to see so many of those who have worked closely with the clinic.

Everyone who has made a donation felt passionately about the clinic and it was great to see that decades later, students are still being inspired by its work.

The University of Kent is honoured to have the Wigoder Building on campus, and it's exciting to know that the Law Clinic can now go from strength to strength.

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