FreeLaw is a free legal advice clinic based in the School of Law at the University of Sheffield. It's led by law students and a supervising solicitor checks over all of the advice before it is issued.
FreeLaw is a student-led legal clinic providing free legal advice to all members of the public, including members of the university as well as charitable organisations and small businesses. Our advice is overseen by qualified solicitors who are also faculty members at the School of Law.
FreeLaw covers most areas of law from contractual disputes, to housing, employment and much more. FreeLaw can also assist with referring clients to a firm or organisation that is more capable of handling their specific case if necessary.
Unfortunately FreeLaw members cannot advise on Criminal, Debt or Immigration Law. Furthermore, we are unable to pursue a claim against The University of Sheffield, its Governors, employees or students.
We may also decide not to take a case forward if it falls outside of the clinic's expertise, if there is a conflict of interest, or if urgent assistance is required.
Due to the nature of the service, FreeLaw cannot provide urgent advice to clients. The expected turn around time for advice is two weeks, although this can take longer during exam and vacation periods.
FreeLaw was set up in 2008 and initially provided a referral service for those seeking legal advice. In 2011, Bartolome Lodge was fully restored at a cost of £150,000 and now provides a home for both FreeLaw and the Miscarriages of Justice Centre. The FreeLaw programme involves students undertaking legal research and providing free legal advice to the public and small businesses, under supervision from qualified solicitors, through two drop-in advice sessions each week during term time. The advice predominately focuses on Housing, Family, Employment, Consumer Rights, Contractual Issues, Personal Injury and Probate matters.
In 2012, FreeLaw won the Enterprise Award at the Student’s Union Academic Awards, in recognition of its work in the local community.
As well as improving the legal skills and employability of our students, FreeLaw provides an invaluable service to the Sheffield community, particularly in light of recent cuts to legal aid for the most vulnerable in our society.
When an individual contacts FreeLaw with their issue, their case will be dealt with by a member of the FreeLaw group. This group will be the main contact of correspondence. They will arrange a time for the client to come in for an interview if they require further information related to the case. FreeLaw offers a two-week timeframe between acceptance of the case and providing advice. This can be subject to change but is done very infrequently.
Standards and confidentiality
FreeLaw is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. Our advice and research is overseen by qualified solicitors who are also employees of the university.
It is important to us that the details surrounding casework remains confidential. However, from time to time, it may be necessary to discuss matters with members of the School of Law for the purposes of ensuring that our advice is accurate. In addition, a portfolio of our work may be prepared in relation to our academic studies. In those circumstances it could be than an external examiner from another university has access to sensitive information.
All those dealing with FreeLaw appreciate the importance of confidentiality and our use of that information is subject to our client’s instructions, the Data Protection Act 1998 and our duty of confidentiality.
Affiliations with the University of Sheffield
Although the project is run by members of the School of Law, the clients and their cases are confidential and distinct from the university itself. Only authorised members of the Freelaw team will have access to client information.
The FreeLaw project is funded by contributions from the university, businesses and generous members of the community. A small budget is also provided by the School of Law.
Last year a £10,000 donation by a former student was given to FreeLaw. There are also learning and teaching grants that we can be awarded from the wider university community.
New clients can come along to a drop-in session, which take place at the following times during term-time only;
Wednesday: 1.00pm - 5.00pm
Thursday: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
The FreeLaw clinic can be found at the driveway entrance to Bartolome House, home to the School of Law. The full address is:
FreeLaw Legal Clinic
School of Law
Alternatively, new clients can contact the clinic directly to arrange an appointment;
Tel: 0114 222 6774
If you require legal assistance when the clinic is closed, try the Langsett Advice and Resource Centre drop-in session on Wednesdays, 6.30-8.00pm;
Sheffield S6 2TN
Tel: 0114 233 5198
Alternatively, the Advice Sheffield website lists all local clinics and advice centres, and has lots of useful information.