Sheffield Hallam law firm to give students ‘cutting edge’

Law students will undertake work experience at campus-based firm in each year of their degree

February 20, 2019
Sheffield Hallam University
Source: iStock

Sheffield Hallam University is set to launch a not-for-profit law firm to provide students with work experience during their degree.

The university-owned firm, SHU Law, will formally launch on 27 February, enabling the institution to incorporate work experience into the core curriculum of its two undergraduate law degrees and its postgraduate LLM.

The firm, which is situated in a converted building on campus, will provide legal services to the community of Sheffield and the surrounding area. The office includes a reception, interview rooms, call centre, back office and lecture room where students will work on cases.

The university said that it was the first institution to offer a law degree that incorporates legal work experience into every year of the course.

Elizabeth Smart, head of law at Sheffield Hallam University, who set up the firm with solicitors Sally Mallinson-Ayres and Rebecca Draper – both of whom will work full time at the firm – told Times Higher Education that all students would be required to take at least one module per year that involves working at the law firm.

Students will spend six weeks at the firm during their first year to undertake ethics and induction training and will return in the second year to work on areas including contentious work, non-contentious work, public legal education, practice policy and research and law in practice.

In the third year, they will have the opportunity to take up to half of their credits at SHU Law, Professor Smart said, adding that students would be able to write letters of advice to clients, draft court documentation and make representations in the small claims court under supervision.

SHU Law will provide a “fabulous opportunity” for students to “develop their graduate attributes and skills” and to gain “a cutting edge when they are applying for jobs in a very competitive workplace”, she said.

“Whether or not they enter the legal profession, the skills that they will learn working in SHU Law are transferable skills in any area of work,” she added.

Professor Smart said that the firm would initially specialise in commercial dispute resolution, personal injury and small claims and would expand into employment and family law and other areas.

“Ultimately it should look like any normal law firm that you would see today in terms of the range of work,” she said.

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