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Pro bono schemes

The Latin term pro bono refers to professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.

Our pro bono schemes are led by academics who bring their own experience and legal expertise to the projects they oversee, imparting their knowledge with our student volunteers.

Our schemes help a range of people with a variety of legal matters at the same time as equipping our students with transferable experience of real-life casework.

Our undergraduate and postgraduate students can volunteer on our schemes and gain the opportunity to develop their skills in client care, legal research, writing and public speaking.

Ensuring the safety and welfare of our staff, students and clients is our priority during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This has meant that the wide range of Pro Bono schemes that we usually offer are currently on hold.

As a result, we have had to refocus and have modified our work to ensure that our students are still able to gain experience, working with partners, but in a safe environment for all.

In the meantime, please feel free to take a look at our schemes if you are a prospective student or a representative from an organisation who wishes to work with us. We look forward to offering our fuller range of schemes in the very near future.

Led by Bernadette Rainey

Asylum Justice is a charity that was set up in 2005 to provide legal advice, assistance and representation to asylum seekers without access to Legal Aid.

Our students volunteer with the charity for several areas of its work, including helping at the drop-in advice clinic. Students also conduct research for the legal director or legal advisor for Asylum Justice, usually as background information for a pending asylum appeal at the tribunal.

Led by Julie Price.

Child Contact Centres exist to provide children with the opportunity to spend time with a non-resident parent following a family breakdown.

By training and volunteering with the Bridgend Children’s Contact Centre, our students provide a listening ear and support to families during contact visits.

Through this scheme, students develop skills such as empathy and the importance of being non-judgemental, while assisting families who are going through difficult times.

Led by Bernadette Rainey

The Bail Observation Project (BOP) is a national project that aims to scrutinise immigration and asylum tribunals and helps those who are detained under immigration powers, including migrants and asylum seekers.

The project has published reports based on immigration bail hearings that have expressed concerns surrounding access to justice, detention and the fairness of the hearings themselves.

Our students have observed bail hearings at the Newport asylum and immigration tribunal and have written reports to add to the work of the national project.

Led by Julie Price 

Established in 1939, Citizens Advice has developed into a unique advice-giving national charity. The charity helps individuals resolve their problems in a variety of legal and non-legal areas including housing, welfare benefits, debt, employment Law, relationship breakdown (including divorce) and consumer rights.

Under this scheme, our students become trained advisors at Citizens Advice Torfaen, Cwmbran.

Led by Blake Morgan LLP and supported by Julie Price, this scheme is a partnership with the charity Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS Cymru) and law firm Blake Morgan.

A partner in Blake Morgan oversees the scheme and specialist land solicitors give their time pro bono to assist our students.

Areas of work typically include advising on proposed licences of land by local authorities to community groups.

This project is a collaboration between Cardiff University, BPP Law School (Bristol), Swansea University and the University of South Wales.

Volunteers provide guidance to claimants on employment tribunal procedure. On this scheme, our students are trained to run guidance sessions for unrepresented claimants at Cardiff employment tribunals on what to expect at a final employment tribunal hearing.

Led by Ben Pontin and Environmental Law solicitor Guy Linley Adams

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) is one of the world’s oldest pro bono environment Law advice and representation charities. It aims to help give a voice to ordinary people and communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment in which they live. It currently operates through a network of university law clinics. Students work alongside national expert practitioners in the field of environmental Law.

The Cardiff ELF Clinic’s role is to advise on enquiries referred to it via the central ELF hub in London. Students have previously worked on cases that include a public enquiry into the M4 Newport relief road, a proposal for a hydroelectric power station, and National Resources Wales’ alleged failure to regulate waste paint from electricity pylons.

Set up in 2015, this scheme is inspired by the work of Kapila and Nirmal Hingorani, the founders of public interest litigation in India. Kapila Hingorani was the first woman from South Asia to graduate from Cardiff University in 1948. The scheme was created with support from the Hingorani Foundation of New Delhi, and is part of our research centre, Centre for Law and Global Justice.

Supervised by the Centre for Law and Global Justice, our students have worked with Deighton Pierce Glynn (solicitors, London and Bristol) and Rights Accountability in Development (NGO, Oxford) in partnership with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (Dar es Salaam) on accountability for alleged human rights abuses in the mining industry in Tanzania.

In 2019 the Centre also launched a partnership with the Strategic Litigation Unit at Amnesty International. This saw a group of Cardiff University students working (in English and French) on preparations for a major human rights case concerning enforced disappearances in an eastern African jurisdiction.

A number of students from this scheme visited Nairobi and New Delhi funded by the University’s Global Opportunities Centre.

Appropriate Adults support vulnerable adults who are detained in custody. Students volunteer with Hafal, the mental health charity, and are trained to become qualified appropriate adults, and to be placed on a rota to be ‘on call’ to attend local police stations if a person is being questioned.

Led by Maria Keyse

Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) is a grass roots group which campaigns for changes in the law on Joint Enterprise. Joint Enterprise cases usually see more than one person being convicted of a crime.

This often means that individuals who are present when a crime is committed can be found guilty of the crime even though they may not have been the person who struck the blow or pulled the trigger.

The School of Law and Politics is part of JENGbA’s Joint Enterprise Appeals Project which involves students looking at the potential for appeal in cases allocated to us by JENGbA. In March each year, students present their findings at a conference in London organised by JENGbA.

Led by Jason Tucker

Our Wales Independent Support and Empowerment student advice project (WISE) began after it was identified that specific support was needed for people in Wales who care for/support people with learning disabilities.

Following an approach by Mencap Cymru, the School’s Pro Bono Unit explored ways for Law students to bridge the gap and offer the support that was desperately needed by family members, support workers and advocates of those living with learning disabilities in Wales.

Students have worked on devising legal toolkits, which provide easy access guidance on complex areas of law, including child protection, accessing social and health care services and education.

The toolkits are available on the Mencap Cymru website and are an important mechanism for empowering families struggling to obtain the legal advice they need.

Since their launch, the toolkits have been accessed over 1,700 unique times and over 1,400 people have attended workshops provided by the project.

Students may also be asked to work on ad hoc pieces of advice to support Mencap’s case workers, and – since 2018 – it had also been possible to undertake placements working at Mencap Cymru’s head office.

This project was recognised as the ‘Most Effective Pro Bono Partnership’ at the Law Works Pro Bono awards in 2018.

Students work with specialist immigration solicitor Glyn Lloyd, who founded Newfields Law. They help provide an advisory service to EU nationals from a range of backgrounds, assisting individuals in making applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Led by Hannah Marchant 

Our NHS Continuing Healthcare scheme addressed a national problem which affects vulnerable sections of the community: care home fees.

The scheme ran until 2018 and allowed our students to help families of nursing home residents and people suffering from dementia to recover care home fees that arguably should have been paid by the NHS.

In total, we recovered more than £190,000 of wrongly paid care home fees. The largest single amount recovered for a client was more than £31,000.

This scheme has now evolved into a work experience opportunity where students visit the office of law firm, Hugh James, for training on this specialist area of Law and practice.

We support the Speakeasy Employment Law Clinic, a specialist clinic based in Cardiff.

Our students shadow employment lawyers who provide employment and discrimination legal advice to some of the most vulnerable across the city including:

  • the recently dismissed
  • the unemployed
  • individuals faced with redundancy or disciplinary action/investigation
  • employees discriminated against in their workplaces
  • individuals dealing with non-payment of wages.

Led by Anna Heenan 

Every year, thousands of people in the UK face court alone. Without help, they have to represent themselves while they go through court proceedings such as divorce, seek custody of their children, or face eviction from their home. They are forced to navigate a complex legal system alone, often against the professional legal representation of the other party.

Working with Support Through Court, our students are trained to assist litigants in person at the Civil Justice Centre in Cardiff.

Led by Anna Heenan 

Victim Support is a national charity which supports people affected by crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales.

Our students volunteer at the charity's national inbound call centre. Amongst the services they offer is their national support line which provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Through this scheme, students develop important skills such as empathy, active listening and the importance of being non-judgemental.

Led by Julie Price

This is a pilot artist mobility advice scheme. Students help create resources to inform artists travelling to the UK about legal requirements such as visas, customs issues related to bringing in musical instruments, and tax issues arising from their paid work.