Reflections on my time in the Essex Law Clinic

Guest Post by Catherine Duggan (outgoing Student Director).

I am graduating this summer with an LLB in Law. I started studying law with the Open University but I had been looking into Pro Bono work and found out about Essex Law Clinic, the work they had done was so amazing I knew I wanted to be involved so I transferred to Essex and signed up straight away. During my time in the Clinic, I have assisted on over forty cases. Many of our clients are vulnerable and unable to find help elsewhere. Knowing that I have been a part of helping these clients overcome their legal issues is a great achievement. Along with that, having the pleasure of being Student Director for two years and watching the Clinic go from strength to strength has been amazing! I am so proud to be a part of the Clinic community and cannot wait to see what they will achieve in the future.

I was also nominated and shortlisted for the Law Works and Attorney General Pro Bono Awards 2019 for Best Contribution by an Individual Student, I am so proud to have been recognised and nominated by my supervisors.

Cat and Lee at the Pro Bono awards last year.

The biggest challenges I faced while working at the Clinic were balancing my studies, clinic duties, part time work and two young children! It was a bit of a juggling act between all of them and it involved a lot of organisation and careful time management. I think what I have enjoyed most about the Clinic is the sense of community and the clients, everyone works together to make sure that our clients get the help they need.

Our administrator, Fanny, the supervisors and the volunteers – we all want the same thing, which is to help our clients in the best way we can. I have worked in the Clinic for the last three years so to list all the skills and experiences I have gained would take a long time! Every time I have stepped foot in the Clinic, I have learnt something new that is a relatable skill to being a solicitor.

The supervisors all have a massive pool of knowledge and experience that they are more than happy to share. The main skills I have developed include letter writing, practical legal research, interviewing clients, note taking and providing oral advice. These skills take years of practice and training, partaking in work at the Clinic gives such a great head start.

After graduation in September 2020, I will start a one-year Legal Practice Course with LLM full time at the University of Law. In September 2021, I will be commencing a two-year training contract with Ellisons Solicitors to qualify as a solicitor.

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