The impact of extended clinical placements on overall student academic attainment: preliminary findings of a collaborative research project at London South Bank University

Conference item


Russell, AC and Evans, C (2017). The impact of extended clinical placements on overall student academic attainment: preliminary findings of a collaborative research project at London South Bank University. Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference, ‘Foundations and Futures’. Portsmouth University, Portsmouth, UK 10 - 11 Apr 2017 London South Bank University.
AuthorsRussell, AC and Evans, C
Abstract

In 2011 LSBU opened its innovative drop-in Legal Advice Clinic where students, under the supervision of experienced and legally qualified university-employed staff, deliver immediate face to face social welfare law advice to clients from the local community. Since 2011 we have assisted more than 3500 local people, trained approaching 200 student legal advisors and collaborated with a large number of solicitors and advice agencies in our local legal advice network. In 2013 we worked with our students and the Higher Education Academy to produce a 70 page open access manual for use by other universities interested in setting up a drop in Legal Advice Clinic . We have subsequently extended our clinical provision to include a help desk at our local County Court and, most recently, a support service at the Central Family Court for unrepresented parties in private family law applications. During term-time our Legal Advice Clinic is open to the public for drop-in advice 9 hours each week in 3 x 3 hour sessions. At these drop-in sessions our student volunteers (working in teams of two with a supervisor attached to each team) provide basic information on any legal topic, give generalist advice in all social welfare law matters, signpost and refer to appropriate local legal advice agencies and law firms, or refer to the Clinic’s own evening sessions. At these drop-in sessions our student teams have one hour to: take a client’s instructions (i.e. establish the relevant facts and what the client wants to achieve); research the enquiry; deliver their advice to the client; write up a case record once the client has left. Typically each student team will deal with 3 clients a session. Each year we recruit 30 second and third year undergraduate law students to work on extended placement in the Clinic (a minimum of 12 x 3 hour weekly sessions). In conjunction with social scientists experienced in quantitative methods from LSBU’s School of Law and Social Sciences, we have embarked on a research project to investigate whether there is a correlation between a placement in the Clinic and our undergraduate students’ academic achievement. Controlling for how well they did in their first year summative assessments, we are comparing our Clinic students’ third year results to the third year results of their peers who did not work in the Clinic. Initial findings indicate that involvement in the Clinic has a positive effect on students’ third year marks. This paper will present the preliminary findings of our research and contextualise both the research project and the set up and development of the Clinic within the evolving tradition of LSBU as a widening participation, civic university. The paper will also consider the potential of our particular clinical model in (1) preparing students for the SRA’s proposed Single Qualifying Exam and (2) meeting the requirement for ‘pre-qualification workplace experience’ that the SRA has indicated is likely to replace the current training contract for solicitors .

KeywordsClinical legal education legal advice clinic LSBU impact academic achievement preliminary findings quantitative analysis
Year2017
PublisherLondon South Bank University
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
Publication dates
Print10 Apr 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Sep 2017
Accepted18 Jan 2017
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/86zvq

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