Eco-law: University of Sussex launches environmental justice law clinic
By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Monday, 29 March 2021
Law students and legal experts at the University of Sussex have started a new project to advise people around Brighton and Hove on environmental justice issues. The pilot project has been launched in partnership with the Environmental Law Foundation.
The project, which is expected to roll out fully in the autumn, sees law students – supervised by tutors and legal practitioners – providing free legal advice to local people on issues such as protecting the ecology and amenity of sites affected by planned housing developments, challenging environmental noise and boosting engagement with environmental concerns in the planning system.
The environmental justice clinic at the University of Sussex is run by Dr Bonnie Holligan, Dr Joanna Smallwood and PhD researchers Chloe Anthony and Hannah Blitzer, who specialise in environmental law. It is part of the University’s award-winning Sussex Clinical Legal Education programme which sees law students, under supervision, give free legal advice to local people.
Dr Bonnie Holligan, a lecturer in law in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex, said:
“We are delighted to be able to work with the Environmental Law Foundation to launch our new clinic. Students on the project will gain skills and experience while helping local communities to tackle environmental problems.”
James Cooper, a law student at the University of Sussex, volunteering with the project, says:
“The ability to practically apply our legal knowledge, in a real-world scenario, whilst helping real people, is an amazing opportunity. The environmental justice clinic at Sussex is both challenging and rewarding. It offers the ability to make a difference in the ongoing climate crisis and an invaluable insight into the field of practical law that I couldn't have gained anywhere else. Talking to clients and solving problems in real time has helped me to build skills that will undoubtedly benefit me into the future.”
The Sussex Clinical Legal Education programme also includes advice on employment law, family law, housing and welfare law, criminal justice, migration law, volunteering with Citizens Advice, support for litigants in person, and a peer mediation service.
The programme has won several awards including the ‘Advice Project of the Year’ from Citizens Advice.
Anyone wanting advice from one of the clinics can get in touch via the website.
The Environmental Law Foundation connects individuals and community groups with environmental lawyers and other specialists. The charity also works with universities, such as Sussex, to bridge the gap between legal study and practice.