Title: Is it ever right to charge for student law clinic services?

Lead Presenter: Stephen Levett



Session Abstract: Student Law Clinics are viewed as a cost - an expensive, resource-intensive add-on to a law degree. As such there has always been a question mark about how they can or should be funded? Over the last decade universities, much like every other public service in the UK, have experienced budgetary cuts which have led some to consider whether law clinics could be run for profit (or at least not-for-profit but self-funding) bodies. At the same time the availability of public legal aid has been drastically cut meaning fewer than 1 in 10 adults will consult a lawyer even where 1 in 2 have had the need to do so in the last 3 years. So the question is a simple one: when, if ever, is it right to charge clients a fee for student law clinic services? What existing charging models are there out there? What are the implications for student participation in clinic? What is the impact on the perception of the role clinics play in society? This discussion is intended as a genuinely open exploration of what charging for legal services by student law clinics means.

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