A model of clinic – assisting litigants in person - Paul

Paul McKeown & Sarah Morse
Northumbria University
Outline of PSU Newcastle project
Exploration of clinical issues raised
Expanding the model across
Europe (or beyond)
Personal Support Unit
Charity based in England and Wales
Personal Support Unit
‘Our vision is that every person in
England and Wales attending a
court or tribunal alone should have
access to a PSU volunteer.’
PSU (2012)
Personal Support Unit
 Volunteer Co-ordinator
 Trained volunteers
 Core volunteer
 Student volunteers
 Free and independent assistance to litigants without
legal representation in civil and family matters
 Listening to clients tell the story of what has happened so far as well as
what their current worries are
Prompting clients to order their thoughts
Tidying paperwork into a rational order and indexing it
Helping clients to find out which forms they need to fill in, to complete
them if they know what they want to say, and to take the paperwork to
the appropriate customer service desk or court office
Helping people find their way around court or tribunal buildings and
Assisting in discussions with court or tribunal staff
Going into court or tribunal hearings with clients
Signposting clients to free legal advice or representation, or to access
relevant advice online
PSU (2012)
PSU Newcastle
 Partnership between PSU and Northumbria Law
 Rationale:
 Provide more clinical opportunities
 Exposure to court environment
 Community Engagement
 Wider community
 Eases stress and helps litigants remain calm
 Access to Justice?
 Students
 Development of soft skills
 Familiarity with court
 Exposure to public service ethos
 Employability
 University
 Increase capacity for clinical activity
 Low maintenance/Low risk
 Marketing
 No legal advice is given
 Student experience?
 Helpful to client?
Access to Justice?
 Is it really clinic?
Clinical Legal Education is ‘learning through participation in
real or realistic legal interactions coupled with reflections of
this experience’
Kerrigan and Murray (2011)
Other jurisdictions
 Various models across the country
 Lawyers providing pro bono legal assistance
 Australia
 Justice Connect
Self-representation service
Due to commence July 2014
4 years of Federal funding
Growing clinics across Europe (and
 Could this model of clinic be utilised in your
 Would it solve any issues you currently face?
 Would this model create any problems?