A free legal clinic offering top quality advice is being launched in Bath thanks to a partnership between three high-profile organisations.
The initiative, between local law firm Stone King, Bath Spa University and Citizens Advice B&NES, will be called The Bath Law Clinic and will see advice offered to residents while at the same time developing work experience opportunities for the lawyers of the future.
Students on Bath Spa University’s law degree course will gain vital experience at the clinic and will be supported by lawyers from Stone King.
In a move that will combine the private and not-for-profit sector, Stone King will also help to fund a coordinator’s role at the advice centre.
The new coordinator’s role will ensure the smooth running of the innovative project, while also developing further funding options.
Citizens Advice B&NES is based at Edgar Buildings on George Street in Bath, and also carries out outreach work in surrounding areas.
Les Redwood, Chief Executive Officer at Citizens Advice B&NES said: “We are proud and excited to announce the first steps in this long-term strategic partnership with Bath Spa University and Stone King solicitors to provide a law clinic within Bath.
“Citizens Advice B&NES has been delivering a long-term strategy of greater community engagement and increased partnerships across the region over the last 2 years and this will be another core partnership for the charity delivered over the course of this coming year.
“This new partnership will give our clients access to free legal advice in a number of specialisms – therefore giving more access to justice for those who need it most.
“We are also delighted to be working with the Bath Business School which began offering an LLB law degree in 2020.
“Bath Business School are committed to enable their students with practical legal experience and have a strong ethos of wider community engagement and will bring a rich source of students and highly qualified volunteers for the charity for many years to come.
“Adding in the visionary support of Steven Greenwood and the Stone King team was the final piece in this unique partnership to make this a perfect offer for the benefit of our charity and clients, especially at this extremely difficult and challenging time.
“Working with a leading law firm who rank in the top 3 for their work with Charities and Social Enterprises and in the field of Education will also help to secure our longer term sustainability and make us more resilient in the tough months to come – we are also investigating the possibility of an extended national arrangement such as this, as we are part of a national charity with over 272 offices.”
Steven Greenwood, Managing Partner at Stone King, added: “We believe this is the first time there has been such an initiative with a commercial partner, Citizens Advice B&NES and a university.
“It really fits in well with our ethos of being a socially responsible business and helping the communities we are proud to serve.
“It is an innovative project and we hope it can be replicated nationally; we are proud to be part of a unique, long-term collaboration and to be able to give something so worthwhile back.”
Steven Goulton Bath Spa University LLB Law Course leader said: “This is a fantastic step towards creating a mutually beneficial partnership between BSU, Stone King LLP and Citizens advice BANES which will allow for our students to not only gain key skills and mentorship from solicitors in a leading law firm but also to enable them to understand the concept of social justice from the coal face.
“We are very excited to be working with an award-winning law firm in Stone King and with Les Redwood and the Citizens Advice BANES.
“Our partnership will ensure all of our mutual aims of enhancing access to justice for the wider community in BANES.”