By: 12 March 2024
Law students offer support to vulnerable individuals in family court

Teesside University law students are providing support to vulnerable people without access to legal advice in a North East family court.

Teesside University Law Clinic will now have a base at family court sessions at Middlesbrough Family Court. They will be able to offer emotional support and procedural advice to people who are representing themselves in private law family cases.

The initiative is the one of only two similar schemes in the whole country and the only one in the North of England.

The Law Clinic, offering free community legal services, has received special permission from the court to attend and work with unrepresented people in person. The Law Clinic has been running for several years at Teesside University and has consistently offered free legal advice to members of the community in areas including employment, civil disputes, landlord and tenant and wills.

The final year LLB law students will be supported by staff from the Law Clinic, who are all trained legal professionals. They will attend the court on Tuesdays, which is when the first hearing dispute resolution hearings take place at the family court.

The students will offer procedural advice on the hearings, explaining the court process and the next stages. They will also offer emotional support to those involved.

Emma Harbron, senior lecturer in legal practice at Teesside University, pioneered the new scheme. She said: “The Law Clinic is delighted to be able to offer this service at Middlesbrough Family Court.

“As well as helping those members of the public who are struggling to access justice, this initiative will be invaluable for our students, offering them an opportunity to gain real-world experience of court proceedings, interact with other legal professionals and deal with clients.

“All of these will be vital skills in their future careers.”

Judge Harvey Murray, a local family court judge, said: “This is an exciting new service aimed at providing those who are attending before our family court with the support and assistance they might need. This collaboration between the university and the court centre will hopefully give members of our community more confidence when attending what could be an emotionally demanding hearing.”

Image: The Law Clinic, Teeside University.
Emma Cockings
Emma is the content editor for Yorkshire Legal News. Emma is an experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury law for a major firm. She has attended and reported on numerous high-profile legal events in Yorkshire.