Student Pro Bono Blog – CommLaw
Jonas tells us about his first impressions of joining CommLaw, one of our in-house pro bono schemes…
Hey! My name is Jonas and I would like to tell you about my first experiences with CommLaw as an ERASMUS student. I come from the University of Münster in Germany and joining a legal clinic was actually one of my bucket-list items as part of the academic side of my semester abroad.
What is CommLaw?
CommLaw is a student-led pro bono project of our Law School where we prepare and deliver free commercial legal advice and presentations to businesses in Sheffield. We are supervised by qualified solicitors. If you have any questions as a small business or start-up in regard to commercial law, you are invited to drop into one of our sessions on Fridays at Bartolomé Lodge!
Why did I choose CommLaw?
Since the beginning of my studies I have always wanted to join a legal clinic because it gives you the opportunity to work on interesting cases while helping
a client. But back at my home university one must at least be a third-year student, which I was not at that time. Now, at Sheffield I finally had the opportunity to go for it. I chose CommLaw from the other legal clinics because commercial law is what interests me the most. To be honest, I also considered where I could contribute my legal knowledge the best. In Germany I enjoyed studying English contract and company law; these subjects fit best with CommLaw, so that the choice was not really that hard.
What were my expectations for CommLaw?
My main expectations of joining CommLaw were to learn the key skills of advising a client and to gain a practical insight into commercial law. Have these expectations already been met after a few weeks being part of CommLaw? Yes, during the first weeks I already learned a lot about the workings of the scheme and we even had our first client last week. I will tell you about him in the end. In our first sessions I learned a lot about what solicitors have to pay attention to in their work. These are essentially the same things that we have to follow when advising our clients. Just to name the key areas, we were trained in how to protect and manage the client’s data, how to manage a client’s expectation and how to coordinate our work on the clinic’s case management system.
How was my first client contact?
As promised, I will end by telling you about our highly anticipated first client. He is a director of a small company and wanted us to inform him about a special type of business insurance, disclaimers for his website and employment contracts for directors. We had the chance to prepare our interview in advance. This helped to ask the right questions relevant for the issues of law. After the interview we drafted a so-called initial precedent letter that sums up for the client which legal question he would like us to advise him on. The letter then had to be approved by our supervising solicitor Louise Glover. This week, we did our research and drafted the letter of advice. Again, the letter of advice has to be approved by Louise before the advice reaches the client. We are excited to see whether she approves our advice!
Interested in getting involved in CommLaw or one of our other pro bono schemes?
Students can apply for to be a pro bono student volunteer at the beginning of the academic year (September/October) Find out more here