Here today, we’re at Mills and Reeve in the
centre of Birmingham. I’m here with the Pro Bono society and the Free Legal Advice Group.
We’re here learning about how we should interview prospective members of the public to help
out with free legal advice. The Centre for Professional Legal Education
and Research – CEPLER – is very much a part of Birmingham Law School and really it’s the
umbrella within the Law School for many of the aspects of life in the School that are
linked to law and practice and the legal profession. We have a very busy and active careers programme
and we bring in practising lawyers – people who’ve used their law degrees to go on and
do a whole range of careers – into the Law School to talk to our students and share their
career paths and journeys. We offer our students work experience and
internship opportunities with a number of employers within the legal profession and
without. All the placements that I got this summer
for work experience I got through CEPLER which has been really really great. I feel more
confident now applying to law firms once I do graduate. We also run a really busy and active pro bono
programme. So, pro bono is the name that’s given to lawyers who give their legal expertise
free of charge to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access it. They have a huge community that they actually
help. I just wanted to be part of that, helping I think especially any future lawyers any
future students who want to be.It helps you figure out where your heart is. We have our Free Legal Advice Group which
sees members of the public come in to the University, be interviewed by some of our
students in relation to a particular legal issue or query that they have. They contact our offices at campus and we
then outsource them to our partnering law firms and chambers who then are able to help
them with their case or advise them on how to proceed with the legal matter at hand. It means we get to work with some of the largest
law firms in the country, we get to work directly with one of their specialists. I think that the skills that they learn from
FLAG are probably invaluable. Not only do they get a chance to speak to a client at
a really early stage and have that interaction with them and get a chance to ask them their
professional interviewing questions, they also get a chance to write that advice letter
whereas at university you’re often writing academic pieces of work. They’re much more
tailored for exams. You get a chance to use your writing skills
in a different way and that will be really valued by employers in the future Client interviewing is something that you
aren’t necessarily taught in the classroom but it is very very important for your role
as a lawyer and so I’ve found that taking part in whether it’s been pro bono or some
of the work experience programmes that CEPLER has set up through working in the courts or
working at law firms have definitely helped not only just helped me gain experience and
definitely helped my CV but have also helped me gain confidence in terms of getting into
a professional role once I graduate from School. The skills that you learn from this, be it
admin, working with members of the public, being able to present and work in a corporate
environment is transferable to business, politics, lots and lots of different things. So it’s
a really exciting thing to be a part of.