UK (University of Bolton) Free Legal Advice Centre hosts drop-in session at town’s Central Library

The University of Bolton’s successful free Legal Advice Centre, staffed by law students, held a special drop-in session at the town’s Central Library.

Students from the centre were available in the Foyer at Bolton Central Library in Le Mans Crescent and spoke to members of the public to discuss a range of legal queries.

The centre was represented by students Jeneth Kangombo, Dechlan Moroz, Tamsin Horwood and Zeeshan Akhtar, as well as Ian Bowden, the University’s Assistant Teaching Professor and qualified Solicitor Advocate.

The Legal Advice Centre was Ian’s idea and launched in September 2019.

It was set up against a backdrop of reduced access to legal advice, which has created a large gap at a time when more people than ever need legal protection.

It has dealt with hundreds of cases from people in the Bolton community and operated throughout the pandemic remotely, with the students supported by University lecturers.

Topics raised included issues around property, commercial, negligence, wills and probate, tax, criminal, contract, divorce, environmental and immigration law.

Ian said: “It was brilliant for us to be out and about and we had tremendous feedback from the people who attended to seek advice.

“Over the course of three hours, we were able to help with a range of matters from divorce and neighbour disputes through to housing issues and probate matters. It was a busy three hours, with a new client calling in to see us every 15 minutes.

“I am very proud of our students who were, as ever, fantastic. Thanks also to the Library service for hosting us in such a beautiful and prime location.”

Dechlan Moroz, a second-year student who is currently working in the Legal Advice Centre, said: “We all thoroughly enjoyed the session and engaging with people who had queries about a variety of legal issues.”

Free Legal Advice Centre

Rob Moran-Hetherington, Library Access Officer – SME Champion at Bolton Library & Museum Service, said: “The staff here were really impressed by the professionalism and polish of the event.

“The students were a credit to the Law School and the University of Bolton as a whole.”

Ian added: “This partnership with the library will help members of the local community as well as give the students invaluable, real-world, cases to work on.

“We hope to visit other parts of the borough through Bolton’s network of community libraries.”

The Legal Advice Centre was highly commended at the prestigious Law Society Awards ceremony last October. It received the accolade in the ‘Excellence in Pro Bono’ category.

Judges said they were impressed with the University’s “collaborative efforts with the local community to ensure efficient use of resources to meet unmet legal needs”.

Being shortlisted for the Law Society Awards is the biggest accolade for law firms in England and Wales.