In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Essex Law Clinic has adapted its service so that clients can still receive free legal help during this difficult time. So on the 7 April 2020, the Virtual Essex Law Clinic was launched.
Students, under Supervision, meet and interview clients via Zoom and then observe the Clinic Supervisors or other pro-bono professionals giving advice on the spot. There will be flexibility in the delivery of advice which may also be via email. Last week, students and a Clinic Supervisor and Administrator tested the newly adapted systems with a simulated case. The system worked very well.
As a student legal advisor, Flavia-Maria Manda declares: “I was pleased to be part of a simulation case and to conduct an interview remotely. The experience was particularly interesting because while the services provided were of the same high standard as in ordinary circumstances, the process was more relaxed. From the perspective of the client, being in a familiar setting rather than sitting directly in front of the advisers felt more convenient, helping them to be more open to building rapport and revealing information. As for the interviewers, being able to communicate with the client while having their information on the screen at all times helped identify the relevant facts more easily. Furthermore, the fact that the contact was more indirect released the pressure of being put on the spot, thereby increasing our engagement and confidence to ask more specific questions.”
Very shortly afterwards, the first real appointment was held. Emma Newton who volunteered on that case said: “I personally found the use of Zoom very positive and felt that it worked well for both the client and those interviewing. It provides a comfortable platform whereby the client is at ease but can also still obtain the information they need. I look forward to working with the Clinic to develop this further.”
Supervisors are looking further into developing more simulated cases, as well as real cases, to help clients with their problems and students develop their interviewing and writing skills.
The Virtual Law Clinic will enable clients to still get help on issues during the Pandemic. If you require free legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.