Student blog post: With Reference to the Case-Law of the European Convention on Human Rights Do Prisoners Have the Right to Vote and, if yes, to which Extent?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following from last year’s blogging success, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module was developed by Noelle to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication

Guest author: Magdalena Vakulova

Introduction

The right to vote has always been a hot topic. In fact, fights to achieve universal suffrage have been here for centuries, and still continue today. Even though the right to vote is one of the basic principles of democratic society and the strongest ‘say’ the citizen can have as well as one of the fundamental human rights encapsulated in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) there are still many ambiguities over potential restrictions to this right.

The current law in the United Kingdom denies the right to vote to prisoners while incarcerated (People Act 1983, part 1 section 3). However, according to Hirst, a case decided by the European Court of Human Rights, the denial of right to vote for prisoners falls outside the given margin of appreciation as the automatic ‘blanket ban‘ contradicts the very essence of this right.

Referring to the relevant case law I will examine the right to vote for prisoners in the UK. I decided to focus on the UK because the judgment (Hirst v UK) was not only the first one in a long series of cases relating to universal suffrage for prisoners but was also applied in different jurisdictions across Europe. I will be arguing that even though the States were given a wide margin of appreciation to exclude prisoners from the voting process, this can only be done if it does not violate the whole essence of the right. In my opinion reasonable restrictions of this right should be allowed and approved as compatible with Article 3, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

Mr Hirst’s Argument

In this video Mr Hirst, convicted of murder, argues in favour of prisoners’ right to vote as a basic human right. 

The Right to Vote as the Basis of Democract

First, we must understand that the right to vote is not only a basic aspect of citizenship but also viewed as the ‘core principle’ (L Beckman ‘The Right to Democracy and the Human Right to Vote: The Instrumental Argument Rejected’ (2014) 13 Journal of Human Rights 381) of the democratic system (Watch this video which explains why a voting right for everyone is so important in a democratic society.) In order to ensure effective democracy within the State the basic human rights of every citizen (Scoppola v Italy, para 51) must be preserved and this without discrimination or unreasonable restrictions incompatible with the terms of the ECHR (Hirst v UK (paras 27 and 41)). Moreover, everyone’s right to participate in voting is implied in Article 21 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more explicitly outlined in Article 25 of the ICCPR where the right to vote is established as a binding norm of international law. Further Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR states that the right to vote is not only the key aspect of effective political democracy but also an important element of the Convention system (Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v Belgium, para 47). Therefore the exclusion of prisoners from the right to vote must be reconcilable with the purposes of Article 3 of Protocol 1 (Hirst v UK (No. 2), para 62). However, in my opinion, the UK has departed from this fundamental norm as it has prevented prisoners from exercising this basic right and so has fully blocked their access to the democratic system.

The Margin of Appreciation and UK Arguments 

In the case of Hirst v UK it was held that a blanket ban on prisoners’ right to vote under s. 3(1) of the 1983 Act is not compatible with Article 3 of Protocol 1. Even though the States are endowed with a wide margin of appreciation and the rights under Article 3 are not absolute, the automatic ban falls outside these margins (Hirst No 2, para 82) as it is not proportionate (Scoppola, paras 93-102; Hirst No 2, paras 76-85) (see also Sauvé v Canada (Supreme Court of Canada), paras 37 and 54-62).

The first  argument that the UK submitted to the European Court of Human Rights was that as prisoners had breached a social contract, they lacked moral virtue and therefore did not deserve this right. The second ground of the government’s reasoning was that this restriction was a punishment which helped enhancing civic responsibility (Hirst No 2, para 50).

The Response of the ECtHR to the UK Arguments 

The ECHR rejected the UK arguments. Firstly, it argued that the lack of moral virtue is contradictory to the fact that the State requires prisoners to fulfill other civic duties. Moreover the ECHR emphasized that the right to vote is a right and not a privilege (see also Sauvé, paras 14, 19-24 and 37; Hirst No 2, paras 59 and 75) which you deserve through a good moral virtue.

Secondly, it was held that incarceration per se is not a reasonable justification for violating fundamental rights. Whilst the ECHR to some extent approved the idea of a voting ban being understood as a punishment (Hirst No 2, paras 74-75, see also Dikson v United Kingdom) it however stressed that any such restriction  needed to have a clear link between the punishment and the restriction (see Hirst No 2, Joint Dissenting Opinion of Judges Wildhaber, Costa, Lorenzen, Kovler and Jebens, para 8 and Dissenting Opinion of Judge Costa, para 3). Yet, there was no such evidence that the UK had even thought about the link to the offense (see discussion by Weston) or any other justification of the punishment. In contrast the UK applied the automatic ban to every prisoner. The UK reasoning was not objective at any point and therefore I agree that the ban contradicts the very essence of the universal suffrage (see Mathieu-Mohin, para 52).

Conclusion 

In my opinion the reasoning of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst was correct as the UK’s justification for the ban was discriminatory and not legally tenable. In this light I think that the UK should carry out debates and amend the current legislation so that the restriction of the right to vote is possible to some extent at least. Furthermore I believe that enfranchisement will help prisoners in their rehabilitation.

Future Impact Webinar Series: The exploitation of money by financial criminals – do you know enough?

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The second webinar, taking place on the 15th November from 12pm, in the Future Impact Webinar Series will aim to illustrate the threat posed by financial crime. The webinar concentrates on the current trends adopted by financial criminals towards disguising their proceeds of crime, the threat posed by terrorist financing and the problems associated with increasing levels of compliance.

Nicholas Ryder, Professor in Financial Crime, will head up a panel tackling these questions and the problems associated with increasing levels of compliance. Hosted by Dr Noordin Shehabuddeen, with guest panellists from PwC and Lexis Nexis, this webinar promises to tackle the big questions and leave you better prepared to take positive action to protect you and your business.

Nicholas is a Professor in Financial Crime who has authored four monographs: The Financial War on Terror (2015), The Financial Crisis and White Collar Crime (2014), Money laundering an endless cycle (2012) and Financial Crime in the 21st Century (2011). Nicholas has also published two edited collections The Financial Crisis and White Collar Crime – Legislative and Policy Responses (2017) and Fighting Financial Crime in the Global Economic Crisis: Policy, Trends and Sanctions (2014). He has also authored three text books The Law Relating to Financial Crime in the United Kingdom (2013 and 2016) and Commercial Law: Principles and Policy (2012).

The Bristol Business Engagement Centre (BBEC) at Bristol Business School is proud to present our Future Impact Webinar Series. This webinar series will feature exciting new developments in technology, science and management practice and highlight their impact on the future of business and society. Thought provoking yet practical, you will develop a better appreciation of what these advances will mean for you, your business and community.

Register for your free place here.

Bristol Law School launch inaugural UWE Bristol Student Law Review (UWESLR)

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This week the Bristol Law School proudly launched the inaugural issue of the UWE Bristol Student Law Review (UWESLR), edited by Dr Tom Smith, which showcases undergraduate student law research at UWE Bristol.

The future of legal research is, like the legal profession, dependent on our current students. We believe it is essential to both encourage the efforts of our students and to assist in the development of their research and writing skills.

This publication intends to do so by showcasing outstanding examples of research by undergraduate Law students at UWE. This fulfills twin objectives: to reward their endeavours by sharing their work with a wider audience, and to demonstrate to both their peers and others the quality of the research produced by our future academics and lawyers.

This issue includes three articles; these are based on the submissions of undergraduate students as part of the final year Dissertations module for the Law and Joint Awards programmes.

Annie Livermore writes about the use of surgical and chemical castration in the treatment of sex offenders; Amber Rush writes about the regulation, reintegration and rehabilitation of child sex offenders; and Georja Boag writes about the identification, protection, support and treatment of victims of human trafficking. All have produced excellent and engaging pieces of research, and should be congratulated for their efforts.

The Review represents part of an ongoing effort to make students a part of the academic research community within the Department of Law at UWE Bristol. The research culture of any university should reach beyond the individual and collective activity of professional researchers; students should feel part of the scholarly environment in which they are learning.

It is hoped that the Review will help to create an unbroken chain between academic and undergraduate research. In doing so, researchers can pass on their expertise and experience to the next generation of scholars, and students can better develop their skills.

We hope you enjoy reading it! The full  UWE Bristol Student Law Review (UWESLR) is available to read and download here.

Bristol Law School students attend annual Eid on the Wharf party

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On 28th September a diverse group of law students from Level 1 to LLM responded to the opportunity to attend an annual Eid on the Wharf party hosted by Clifford Chance and the Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML).

Koser Shaheen, Chair of AML, offered free tickets to UWE law students to attend the networking event at Clifford Chance’s Canary Wharf offices.  Facilitated by Dr. Zainab Kahn, interested students worked together to prepare for the trip.

First year LLB students Kashif Imambaccass and Lizzie Greco-Turner reflected on their experiences:

“Having only been studying at UWE for two weeks, this was our first law networking event. We were awestruck walking into the imposing thirty floor skyscraper at Canary Wharf that houses Clifford Chance. Once we arrived at the venue, we were greeted by fellow UWE students, ranging from second year LLB to LLM students.

The opportunity to network with 250+ city professionals, who were very impressive leaders in their field, gave us an invaluable insight into what a legal career in law entails.

The highlight of our evening was interacting with Halim Uddin, an associate at Clifford Chance. Uddin was down-to-earth and friendly, willing to answer all the questions we had on the work required to become an elite lawyer.

In addition to the networking, the Eid party exposed us to a number of Islamic speakers and entertainers.  We felt humbled listening to an address by Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, who recently received the Queens Award for Voluntary Services.  Also on top of the list of entertainment was the engaging and often funny speech by Lauren Booth, referred to as one of the most ‘fascinating Muslim Personalities of our time’.

As Law is often portrayed as an exclusive profession, it was refreshing to network with a diverse team of lawyers from a wide range of backgrounds. Thanks to our lecturer Kathy Brown, who believed in us; we have obtained a drive to excel, to work harder and pave the way to becoming the very best of who we are. Now, the idea of working for one of the ‘Magic Circle’ firms, seem slightly less daunting.”

In accordance with the inclusive nature of the activity, travel was funded for the students by the Bristol Law School.

 

Student blog post: On the basis of the Article ‘Port of Rotterdam Reveals Scale of Brexit Challenge’ discuss the legal issues relating to non-tariff barriers and trading standards imposed on imported goods.

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following from last year’s blogging success, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module was developed by Noelle to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Guest author: Victoria Meller

One of the most discussed phenomena of recent times is the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, i.e. Brexit. While the exact implications of Brexit will only become apparent once the UK officially leaves in 2019, the departure will undoubtedly have consequences on the economic relations of the UK with the EU as well as with the rest of the world.

The focus of this blog post is on the effect of Brexit on trading standards, i.e. tariffs and non-tariff barriers on imported and exported goods. I will examine the challenges that UK businesses and consumers might face.

Tariff and Non-tariff Barriers

Tariffs are external taxes paid on imported and exported goods as they cross the border whereas non-tariff barriers are trading requirements on goods, such as certain quality certificates which need to be shown at the border, or quantitative measures such as quotas. States usually prefer to pay tariffs to abiding by non-tariff barriers as the latter can limit or prevent a certain type of product from entering a State.

One fundamental principle of international economic law is the principle of non-discrimination. It is imposed by the World Trade Organization on all its members and consists of two components: the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment (Article I GATT 1994) which states that each trading partner must be treated equally and the national treatment (Article III GATT 94) which stipulates that foreign goods shall be treated in the same way as national goods. Exceptions to the principle (Article XIV) include preferential treatment towards developing nations (which goes against MFN but is for the greater good of disadvantaged nations) and being part of a regional free trade agreement. The UK, as a member state of the EU, is part of the single market and customs union, which operates as a tariff-free trade zone and applies the national treatment principle within its borders though it does discriminate against non-EU goods but is allowed to do so as it is a regional trade agreement.

In light of the article by Acton (Financial Times, 28 December 2017) this blog post highlights specific issues relating to the import of agricultural goods into the UK as it is claimed that 70% of imported food comes from the EU.

Price Rises

If the UK is unable to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU, then Brexit will result in the UK adopting the universal WTO tariffs as well as having the EU common external tariff of 2.3%  being imposed on it. This may result in price rises on foods such as fruits, vegetables, and wine which cannot be produced in the UK and are primarily imported from other EU States. As demonstrated in the table below, tariffs on e.g. dairy produce might rise to 39.9% on EU exports and 39.4% on UK exports. The higher prices would be caused by not only higher tariffs being placed on imports from the EU but also international imports entering the EU before reaching the UK. As the article explains, the latter situation is likely to happen since the UK does not have sufficiently large ports in comparison to EU ports such as Rotterdam.

 

Source: J Protts, ‘Potential Post-Brexit Tariff Costs for EU-UK Trade’, Civitas, October 2016, available here.

Double Control

Goods imported from outside the EU will go through a double border control which will inevitably cause delays. This will have the greatest impact on goods which rely on the just-in-time production system, such as food manufacturers (e.g. Kellogg’s). The just-in-time inventory system relies on manufacturers producing enough to meet demand, and only storing a limited amount of excess goods in inventory. Hence quick delivery onto shelves is essential. Double border control will mean double tariffs and non-tariff barriers such as certifications. This will affect the time they reach consumers and thus create costs for businesses.

As for non-tariff barriers, these will have huge implications on agricultural goods, as they are subject to stricter regulations and sanitary standards because of their public health consequences and fragile nature.

Non-tariffs 

Non-tariff barriers are believed to be 2-3 times the cost of tariffs on goods. With that in mind, sanitary standards and rules of origin (see Article IX GATT) of exported goods should remain strict for the UK post-Brexit. This will be to prevent the UK from acting as a ‘back door route for goods into Europe’. Since the UK will no longer be an EU member it may decide to relax trading standards, e.g. allow imports of chlorinated chicken which is banned across the EU. However, I think that the UK will nonetheless uphold most of the EU trading regulations and replicate them into its domestic law. This is because the majority of those regulations were voluntarily upheld by EU member states, as opposed to being imposed on them. In addition, as aforementioned, the UK does not possess sufficient ports for trading and so will likely continue to rely on EU ports. 

Source: Michael Acton ‘Port of Rotterdam Reveals Scale of Brexit Challenge’, Financial Times, 28 December 2017, available here.

Uncertain Future

Regardless of the many challenges that may initially arise due to Brexit, I think the UK could possibly benefit in the long run from withdrawing from the EU as it will no longer be restrained by the EU in terms of product standards and consequently be able to negotiate free trade deals on its own terms with any State and freely decide which tariffs and trading requirements to impose. I believe the UK will learn to adapt to this new set of circumstances, but only time will tell.

UWE Bristol’s First Interdisciplinary Symposium on Organised Crime

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On Wednesday 10th October, the Centre for Applied Legal Research will be hosting their first interdisciplinary symposium on organised crime.

The Symposium is endorsed by the Criminal Justice Unit, the International Law and Human Rights Unit, and the Regional History Centre. The Symposium is in association with SOLON Interdisciplinary Studies in Law, Crime and History.

The symposium will be chaired by Senior Lecturer in Organised and Financial Crime in Offshore Financial Centres, Dr Mary Alice Young and Lecturer in History Dr Michael Woodiwiss.

Speakers include: 

• Dr Michael Woodiwiss (History, UWE).

• Dr Anna Markovska (Criminology, Anglia Ruskin).

• Professor Tim Hall (Human Geography and Criminology, Winchester).

• Mr Mark Berry, PhD Researcher, Cardiff University, Trustee for the International Association for the Study of Organised Crime.

• Mr Jonathan Benton, Freelance – Formerly Head of Proceeds of International Corruption Unit and Senior Investigating Officer leading the UK Anti-Corruption Task Force and Proceeds of Corruption Unit.

• Mr Mike Lewis, Freelance – Mike’s work documents and understands the activities of states, individuals, armed groups and companies in armed conflicts and vulnerable economies, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa but also in Northern Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. More information about Mike Lewis’s research).

The symposium will take place in 4X113 in the Bristol Business School from 9am – 5pm.

The full event agenda can be viewed here. You can register for the event here.

If you have any further questions please email: calr@uwe.ac.uk

Student event: Start of the Year Careers Forum

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After a summer filled with sunshine, we’re holding a welcome back careers event next week as part of induction week. The Start of the Year Careers Forum will shine a light on opportunities for graduate jobs, placements and internships with leading legal and non-legal employers from the South West and across the UK.

The forum will take place on Wednesday 19th September from 10am.

The forum will consist of a mixture of employer stands and breakout sessions with short talks. Expect:

  • Employer stands with information and freebies.
  • A chance to meet and hear from legal and non-legal employers from the South West and across the UK. All of the attending employers recruit law graduates.
  • Insights into working in different job roles and sectors.
  • Tips to help you stand out in application processes for placements and graduate jobs.
  • A window into the future of how technology and other trends are changing jobs and industries.

Whether you want to become a solicitor, a barrister, or do something else entirely, this event is designed to appeal to all law students with a wide variety of interests and ambitions. It will give you the chance to talk to non-legal employers and find out why they value and recruit law students. There will be law firms present, as well as a wide range of other employers who are interested in your skills as a law graduate.

These employers have an interest in speaking specifically to you. Employers signed up include:

WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday 19th September, 10am-2pm, Floor 3 in the Business School. This will show in your timetables.

This event is aimed at second and third years in the Faculty of Business and Law, and we will be issuing a full programme shortly. Keep up to date on Twitter @UWELaw.

Don’t miss out!

Pro bono: Further reflections on the African Prisons Project experience

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One of the many activities the UWE Pro Bono Unit undertakes is the African Prisons Project. The project sees UWE students assisting prisoners and prison warders during their Law studies in Uganda and Kenya. Kathy Brown has previously blogged about the project here. In this post, Kelly Eastham reflects on her experience:

I never thought that I would have spent my summer working in 3 maximum security prisons in Kenya and never did I think that this would be the place that would inspire me the most.

I have had the most unforgettable summer of my life. I thought that my role this summer would be to “teach” but instead I have been taught some serious life lessons and I have learnt far more than I could have possibly taught. I have learnt more about myself in the space of these 2 months than I have my whole life. I have discovered my strengths and weaknesses and new passions and dreams. But most importantly I have learnt to be grateful for all of my blessings and to always remember how good I have it in comparison to those less fortunate.

I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing, selfless and inspiring people I have ever met. They continued to amaze me with their intelligence, their skill, their compassion and their hearts of gold. I am beyond moved by every single inmate and their motivation to achieve a law degree purely to help others with no regard for financial gain. This has been such a shocking contrast to the reality of life as a law student in the UK where money is a key (if not the main) motivator behind a legal career.

It has been heartbreaking to see how much a system has failed so many incredible people and branded them as criminals knowing they would never be in this situation if they were in the UK. It’s devastating to hear their dreadful stories of miscarriages of justice and all the unconstitutional death penalty’s that have been issued to people who are so undeserving but are now on death row for crimes not proportionate to such an outdated form of punishment. But despite all of this wrong doing the inmates all seemed in great spirits and they were all so grateful for the little things. It has been so emotional and almost uncomfortable to receive so much gratitude for simply being a nice human and helping people who are so deserving. For me this highlights how much prison reform really needs to take place if little things such as our support have been so impactful on their life. They deserve so much more help and support and it is frustrating to see how little they receive.

But on a more positive note it has been incredible to see the dignity and hope brought to places where there has previously been none and to take small steps to start improving their life and building up a future for them if they are released. All the work APP are doing has been a HUGE step in the right direction but there is still lots more work to be done. But I am so excited to see the impact of the amazing work we are doing in Africa. Being able to see at first hand the impact of the work we have achieved this year has been so motivating and emotional. I am so honoured to be a part of something that has had such a huge impact on the inmates lives and I cannot wait to continue working with APP. I hope our work continues to help achieve justice in the prison system and provides wrongly convicted inmates with a voice and the knowledge to support themselves and others victims of injustice.

This has been one of the most unforgettable life experience I could ever ask for and I hope all victims achieve the justice they deserve. I am so proud of all of my incredible students and being able to help them grow and develop has been the best thing I have ever done. My last week was full of some of the hardest goodbyes I have had to say and I know I will never forget any of them. Until next time Africa 🌍✈️

 

 

Introducing the Trailblazer programme: Free CPD for Bristol Law School alumni

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Bristol Law School are offering our alumni a pioneering and exclusive complimentary professional development programme, relevant across disciplines, regardless of when you graduated.

Launching in September 2018, our Trailblazer Programme will blend face-to-face sessions with webinars and social events. You will be motivated to maximise personal impact, boost effectiveness and develop leadership skills.

Facilitated by experienced academics, seasoned practitioners, and inspirational speakers, this programme echoes the mantra of learning by doing what is integral to our Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School.

Who is it for?

Offered exclusively to UWE Bristol alumni on a complimentary basis, this is a chance to continue the learning that you began when you were a student. The programme enables you to take advantage of your lifelong connection to our expertise and community.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this programme, however places will be offered exclusively to UWE Bristol alumni from our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Content

The programme incorporates four face-to-face sessions alongside online learning through webinars and two social events per a cohort.

Session 1 – Leading Self for Personal Effectiveness: Learn how to adapt your behaviour and actions when dealing with different individuals, tasks and situations. Acquire the skills to deliver exceptional performance, authentically.

Session 2 – Leading Others for Impact: Practical tips on creating high performing teams focusing on; healthy team dynamics, influencing and communicating.

Session 3 – Coaching and Mentoring: Transform your personal management style in this practical session by developing your coaching and mentoring skills to enhance performance and encourage self-exploration.

Session 4 – Design Thinking: Experience the creative process of finding new and transformative solutions to problems whilst also generating innovative ideas and opportunities.

Webinars: Webinar topics will be decided at the start of the programme to ensure these are relevant to the current business environment.They will be available live or pre-recorded.

Graduation: Graduation event for the year’s cohorts.

Professional accreditation

We are seeking to get this programme approved by the CPD Certification Service, meaning you will receive a certificate to demonstrate your CPD hours through completion of this programme*.

The growing network of participants will benefit from lasting relationships with likeminded professionals.

*subject to approval being granted.

Places for the course are limited to 40 participants per cohort. For more information and to apply for your free place, please see here.

Pro-bono works: Employability success for students

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Marcus Keppel-Palmer, Director of Pro Bono, reflects on the experiences of some recent Law students who have worked in the UWE Pro Bono Unit:

Employers, Law firms particularly, view students who have undertaken Pro Bono work very favourably. Not only does participation in Pro Bono show commitment by students to a legal career, but it also gives valuable opportunities for students to develop their lawyering skills beyond the classroom. Additionally, the virtues of working on real life cases adds a layer of “real work” with its need for teamwork, time management and communication skills. The Business Advice Clinic has operated a team this past year advising members of the Network for Creative Enterprise based at three sites in Bristol and one in Bath. The experience has proved valuable to the students who worked in this pressurised environment, and they have all been able to use the experience to obtain employment at the end of their courses.

The team consisted of mainly LPC students, Lucie, Henry, Matt, Ryan, Gabriel, Edwin, and one LLB student, Siddique. Lucie has obtained a training contract with Foot Anstey and her experience with the Business Advice Clinic played a part in her obtaining this role. As she commented: “The drop-in sessions at Spike Island, Watershed, The Guild and Knowle West Media Centre have provided students with excellent exposure of working with clients, and has assisted in the development of start-up businesses (many of which are UWE graduates) across Bristol and Bath.”

Matt obtained a job with Reynolds Porter Chamberlain before completing his LPC. He commented on his experience in the Clinic: “The NFCE Business Clinic has provided fresh challenges on every occasion. For a law student, pursuing a career as a practising solicitor this has been an extremely beneficial experience. In the sessions, we have dealt with a remarkable range of issues and have tackled any problems head-on. From another perspective, I strongly believe that the advice we have provided has positively impacted the businesses and people, we have been able to reach. And for me personally, it has been very fulfilling to give back to Bristol and its exciting entrepreneurial community.”

Siddique, as the only undergraduate found himself working with LPC students, but settled in well as he gained in confidence. He has set up his own sports agency business and has used the experience of advising similar businesses at the BAC to inform his decisions. Siddique commented: “I feel BAC has enabled me to develop a different skill set in comparison to placements that I have done. The reason for this is because unlike other experiences BAC puts a lot of responsibility on myself and other students. This means a substantial portion of the legwork such as interviewing clients, researching their problems and coming up with solutions was left to us and then later double checked by supervisors. Additionally, the focus on providing business advice to a range of business is different from other Pro Bono schemes. Finally, BAC also provided me an opportunity to develop practical skills to work in a variety of commercial environment as client’s issues range from intellectual property law to contract law. I believe moving forward BAC will help me greatly as it has shown me the various ways in which law interacts with the world and demonstrated the different avenues of work aside from becoming a barrister or solicitor.”

Ryan obtained a legal team assistant position with Burges Salmon and he attributes his experience at the BAC to assisting him with coming over as a credible candidate in interviews. Ryan commented: “The Business Advice Clinic provided me with invaluable experience which helped develop my understanding of a number of commercial areas, as well as my confidence. From the outset you are given real responsibility from conducting the interview right through to providing the advice. Having this experience has been a real benefit in interviews. It has helped me back up my commercial interest which is always a difficult question to answer and has enabled me to draw on real experience of the potential legal issues businesses can face.”

Although Edwin, as a Malaysian student, is concentrating on obtaining a Masters, he is still looking for ways to work in the UK. Henry, howver, has taken a job overseas. He is currently working as a paralegal with International Law Firm Dentons in Qatar and is considering an offer from the firm to undertake a training contract over there. Gabriel has, like Siddique, used his Pro Bono experience to go into a career analogous to the legal profession but not directly in private practice. Before graduating from the LPC, Gabriel attained a role at Leidos, the defence and aviation company. Gabriel said: “Interacting with clients and being able to help them with their legal issues was the most rewarding aspect of the Pro Bono and the most practical for my legal career. Being able to learn from my supervisor and my peers was also very insightful and helpful.” And in assisting his employability, he commented that “In Employment Interviews I was able to use my past experience such as conducting client interviews, researching legal documents and drafting legal contracts in Pro Bono for my job interviews. It was very useful in explaining the experience that I obtained and how it made me a stronger candidate for the role”.

Certainly the experience of this group of students in the Business Advice Clinic has shown how the quality Pro Bono experience offered by UWE can translate directly into the workplace upon finishing a course. But working in other Pro Bono activities is equally valuable in terms of employability. Cameron, who this year has headed up the Bristol Musicians Advice Service, is using his industry knowledge with an Events and Entertainment company, whilst Jason who ran the Anti-Death Penalty Group this past year is working in an in-house legal department.

Both Ryan and Gabriel advise all UWE students to do Pro Bono activity. Gabriel says that “Doing Pro Bono work opens up avenue in terms of people you meet and legal issues that you encounter, is great for your CV as well, and you get to meet different people from your class”, while Ryan commented specifically on the BAC: “I feel that all future students would benefit from participating in the clinic. It will build confidence, help develop essential skills for interviewing & advising, further understanding of the potential legal issues a business may face and provide exposure to a wide variety of businesses.”