100% winning start for law students providing free benefit appeals

Pro Bono LASP.jpg

A project in which law students provide free legal advocacy, representing clients at a tribunal, has maintained its 100 per cent winning start.

Four Manchester Metropolitan University students took on the cases of individuals who were due to have their Employment and Support Allowance reduced or removed by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The students represented their clients at appeal hearings and in each case successfully won a reversal of the Department’s decision, meaning the clients will continue to receive their benefit payments.

The work is part of a Pro Bono Legal Advocacy Support Project (LASP) under which volunteer students recruited from Manchester Law School – a number soon increasing to eight – are trained and supervised by staff at the Greater Manchester Law Centre on Princess Road, Moss Side.

It is thought to be just the second LASP of its type in the country.

Fantastic opportunity

Catherine Little, Head of Manchester Law School at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The project gives our students a fantastic opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have from the classroom to a practical situation.”

The students from Manchester Law School, three of whom are on the Bar Professional Training Course for barristers and one who is on the Graduate Diploma in Law conversion course for graduates, started training earlier in the year and the first tribunal hearing for them was on May 17.

They worked one day a week at the law centre, committing a minimum of four hours a week to progressing their client’s case.

Their four successful tribunal appeals were heard at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.

Student Samantha Mayer said: “Being part of the LASP scheme at Greater Manchester Law Centre has been an amazing experience, which has enabled me to put theory into practice almost immediately, by taking on work that really makes a difference to people at a very difficult time in their lives.

“Getting to do all aspects of the case from meeting clients, to legal research to appearing at a tribunal means you get to really know a case and the client.”

Samantha’s client Jannah Murphy said: “The support and assistance that I received from Sam Mayer and the team gave me reassurance and made me feel like a real person. It is an absolutely amazing service.”