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New migration pro bono law clinic launches at University of Sussex

Law student and migration clinic volunteer Hassan Khan strikes a pose in court

A pro bono law clinic that provides migrants faced with immigration and asylum legal challenges with free legal advice has launched at the University of Sussex.

Headed up by immigration and asylum law barrister, Dr William McCready, the Migration Law Clinic runs weekly at the University of Sussex Law School and is facilitated and researched by third-year and postgraduate law students. The student advisers all take immigration and asylum law and provide advice to clients of the Clinic as well as helping to draft legal documents under the supervision of, and in consultation with, Dr McCready.

The Migration Law Clinic provides advice across a number of issues focusing on asylum claims, including claims based on persecution due to political activity, and family reunion applications under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Migration Law Teaching Fellow, Dr McCready recently joined the University of Sussex from leading human rights chambers, Garden Court North Chambers, in Manchester, and says:

“The lack of legal support for people with serious immigration issues is incredible. You have very vulnerable people on the verge of being separated from their families, without any access to legal assistance. It’s really important for our students to gain some exposure to these types of issues and to have the opportunity to use what they have learned in class to provide some help.

“The Migration Law Clinic was set up due to the extreme shortage of immigration and asylum advice in the Sussex area. Even people who would be eligible for legal aid are largely unable to find solicitors who are willing to do legal aid work – with many having to travel as far as Croydon to find the closest legal aid representation. Given that the average weekly benefit payment to an asylum seeker is just £35.39, this is not an option for many.”

The Migration Law Clinic is also an invaluable opportunity for students to make the bridge between what they have learned in class and what they will be doing in practice once they have graduated. 

Hassan Khan, a law student at the University of Sussex who works on the Migration Law Clinic, says:

“As aspiring law students, we are exposed to the law but rarely are we taught how inaccessible that law can be for some people. The Sussex law clinics are a great way to meet people who you otherwise wouldn't meet in an ordinary law clinic because they cannot afford those fees.

“Specifically, in terms of the Migration Law Clinic, I've seen the importance of support and legal advice that is desperately needed – the people seeking help often do not know about the UK, have family or a support network, or even speak the language.

“It's been amazing so far; the best part is knowing that whatever you are working on is for the benefit of others.”

The Migration Law Clinic is currently run on an appointment-only basis. Interpreters are provided and client travel to and from the Clinic will be reimbursed. Currently clients are being referred by local refugee and asylum charities such as Voices in Exile, but anyone seeking advice on the issues covered in the Clinic can make direct contact with the University of Sussex Law School via: migrationlaw@sussex.ac.uk /  01273 876797.

All general University of Sussex Law Clinic enquiries can be made via: lawclinic@sussex.ac.uk. The clinical legal education programme also covers housing, welfare, employment, family, criminal law, litigants in person and also advice to Citizens Advice clients. 

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By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Wednesday, 8 May 2019

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