Overview

Established in 2020, the University of London’s Refugee Law Clinic is an innovative project providing pro bono legal advice for refugee clients. Our work provides some of the most disadvantaged communities in London with access to fair and equal legal representation, a basic human right which many asylum seekers in the UK struggle to find.

The clinic is supported by the Central University and by 10 of the University’s Member Institutions. It is based on a model of Clinical Legal Education for the University’s diverse student body and facilitates practical experience for students working on real cases under the supervision of a qualified expert lawyer. Delivered in partnership with two law firms, the Refugee Law Clinic also provides the opportunity for lawyers to undertake pro bono work within the clinic. 

The clinic's main legal focus is on advising and preparing fresh claims for asylum, an area identified as underserviced in the current legal landscape, and it aims to complement the work of law firms and other service providers in London.

Operation of the Clinic

Institutional set-up 

The Refugee Law Clinic is structured as a direct legal service provider and is regulated by the OISC, with all work overseen by a supervising lawyer. 

Focus of work 

The primary focus of the clinic is on Further Submissions for Asylum ('Fresh Claims'). Submitting a fresh claim for asylum is the process by which a declined asylum-seeker seeks to advance further representations to make a fresh claim on the basis of important new factors (such as changed circumstances, additional evidence, etc.). A successful fresh claim can give rise to an in-country right of appeal or lead to a grant of refugee status or humanitarian protection.

Selecting cases

Because of the large demand for legal representation in the area of Fresh Claims, the Clinic operates on a referral-only basis from partner organisations. We regret that we cannot accept direct referrals from the public or from other organisations at this time.

Impact of the Clinic

The Refugee Law Clinic contributes much-needed pro bono legal services to asylum seekers in London in an underserved area of asylum law and develops partnerships towards this objective.  

Appeals-rights exhausted asylum seekers looking to submit fresh claims have particular difficulties in accessing legal services, leaving large numbers without representation. The clinic has also provided advice to referring agencies on fresh claims and on other referral pathways for particular cases, working towards the aim of becoming a centre of excellence in the field of fresh claims.

This kind of Clinical Legal Education programme is highly beneficial and formative for law students, developing experience and interest in social justice work. The Clinic also seeks to build broader interest in refugee and asylum law through the law firms partnering on this pro bono work, and to support these lawyers to develop a secondary specialisation. Law clinics also contribute to the legal landscape through test cases, research and reflection on law practice and reform. The clinic has been nominated for, or won, several awards for its work in this field.

Project Partners

The UoL Refugee Law Clinic is an inter-collegiate project of the University of London and at this stage has committed involvement from ten of the University’s Member Institutions, who each send students to volunteer in the clinic: 

  • Birkbeck 
  • City, University of London 
  • Goldsmiths 
  • Kings College London 
  • London Business School
  • London School of Economics (LSE) 
  • Queen Mary, University of London  
  • Royal Holloway 
  • School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) 
  • University College London (UCL)

The project has also partnered with two commercial law firms who send volunteer lawyers to engage in the Clinic:

  • Clifford Chance LLP
  • Macfarlanes LLP

The clinic also receives financial support from Migration Thames Valley's Migration Foundation and another charitable trust. We also receive support in training materials from HJT Training, and broader support from an Expert Panel, and the clinic's Governing Board.

Key publications and other outputs

Further Information

For further information, please contact Susan Reardon-Smith, Clinic Coordinator, at susan.reardon-smith@london.ac.uk.