University of Sussex flying the flag for human rights: Free access to legal advice
The University of Sussex and the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) are flying the flag for human rights this week.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from 24-29 June we are proudly flying a flag designed by artist Ai Weiwei from the Sussex House building on our Falmer campus.
Throughout Fly the Flag week, we are also celebrating some of the ways we promote human rights in our research, teaching and the local community.
Many people don’t have enough money to access legal advice. That’s why Law students at the University of Sussex have been running law clinics for the local community.
Students meet clients who face adversity in areas as disparate as crime, employment, family, housing or migration, offering free legal advice based on research and under the supervision of academics and practitioners.
Over the past four years, students have expanded their efforts to address the yawning gaps in legal aid, meeting over 2,000 clients until now.
The director of the clinics, Dr Amir Paz-Fuchs, views them as offering a vital service to the community, as well as a crucial aspect of legal education, bringing the real issues facing disenfranchised individuals into the classroom.
Dr Paz-Fuchs, a Senior Lecturer in Law, says: “Sussex Law students have been helping some of the most vulnerable people in their local community tackle what are often traumatic life circumstances.
“Legal clinics play a vital role in communities. And from the response we’ve had, it’s clear there is a need for the type of help and guidance we can offer.”
Many students report that taking part in the programme - one of the most comprehensive range of free legal advice clinics anywhere - changed their view about the legal system and about their plans for the future.
And one client has written to thank the students, saying: “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
In June 2019 Dr Paz-Fuchs and the Sussex Clinical Legal Education team collected a ‘Learning Together’ Education Award at the University of Sussex, presented for bringing together staff and students to deliver this much-needed service for vulnerable people in our community.