Overview

The University of London (UoL) is launching the Refugee Law Clinic that will provide a pro bono legal advice for refugee clients based on a model of Clinical Legal Education for its diverse student body. 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 will be on advising and preparing fresh claims for asylum, an area identified as underserviced in the current legal landscape, and 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. All work will be overseen by a supervising lawyer, supported by a coordinator and advice will be issued on the clinic’s letterhead and under the clinic’s supervising lawyer’s name. 

Focus of work 

Initially, the primary focus of the clinic will be 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 lead to a grant of refugee status or humanitarian protection. A claim that is accepted can also give rise to a further in country right of appeal.

In cases where the Home Office makes a decision to refuse to treat representations made by an applicant as a fresh claim for asylum, Judicial Review is the only legal challenge available. In cases with a reasonable  prospect  for success, it is envisaged that the Refugee Law Clinic will engage in such JR work.  

Selecting cases

Because of the large demand for legal representation in the area of Fresh Claims, the Clinic will initially be operating on a referral only basis from a partner NGO. We regret that we can't accept direct referrals from the public or from other organisations at this time.

Impact of the Clinic

This is a high-impact and innovative project with the potential to develop substantially in future. 

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

From  conducting a mapping exercise of the legal landscape in London, the area of fresh claims  was found to be the greatest area of  legal  need. Refugee Action figures show a greater than 50% reduction in the number of providers offering legal aid or not-for-profit representation for Immigration and Asylum law over the last decade. A recent meeting with direct service providers confirmed that those seeking to submit fresh claims have particular difficulties in accessing legal services, leaving large numbers without representation. Providing such a service would thus complement the work of law firms and help to fill a key gap in existing service provision. 

Through its outreach activities the clinic will also seek to support a number of organisations through developing referral systems and providing legal awareness-raising. 

Clinical Legal Education programmes are highly beneficial and formative for law students, developing experience and interest in social justice work. Law clinics also contribute to the legal landscape through test cases, research and reflection on law practice and reform.

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 will each be sending 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 will be sending volunteer lawyers to engage in the Clinic:

  • Clifford Chance
  • Macfarlanes

The clinic also receives support in training materials from HJT Training, and broader support from an Expert Panel, and the clinic's Governing Board.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Frances Trevena, Supervising Lawyer, at frances.trevena@sas.ac.uk, or Susan Reardon-Smith, Clinic Coordinator, at susan.reardon-smith@london.ac.uk