Fellow: Sami Halpern

Islington Law Centre

Islington Law Centre is a dynamic, inner city Law Centre which provides high quality, free and independent advice in Islington to enable people to improve their lives; and seeks to influence law, policy and practice. We offer services across a range of social welfare law categories and have a number of specialist projects based here (Migrants’ Law Project, Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit and StreetLegal, a project working to tackle youth homelessness).

Islington Law Centre is a well-established Law Centre, which was founded around 40 years ago, and which is based near the Angel tube station in North London. We work within a borough which has a wide disparity between rich and poor, and where there is a very diverse population. The Law Centre enjoys good relationships with a wide range of other not for profits, legal aid firms and chambers, and has an extensive network of outreach provision. Our partners in delivering services out in the community include the Council, Help on Your Doorstep, children’s centres, community groups, Hackney Migrant Centre and a local night shelter. We were founder members of the Islington Advice Alliance, and convene the local Welfare Benefit Advisors Forum. A number of staff sit on other bodies and Committees.

We employ 14 practising solicitors and 9 specialist caseworkers, and have specialist teams covering consumer/debt, education, employment, housing, immigration/asylum, public law, and welfare benefits. 2 of our solicitors are former Legal Aid Lawyers of the Year, with another being a finalist, and another being Highly Commended in the Law Society’s Human Rights Lawyer of the Year awards. The Law Centre is a finalist in the LALY awards this year, in the organisational category.

We have a strong tradition of working with City firms to offer pro bono work to our clients, and host 3 evening advice sessions a week, with volunteers from 6 different firms. Additionally, we are working with LawWorks on a project offering pro bono support to clients with Employment Support Allowance appeals, and with some City firms and BPP School of Law on a project assisting people with Article 8 claims.

We have funding from Islington Council to work with local residents, as well as grants from Trusts and Foundations to undertake a range of projects. We also receive donations – both from corporate supporters and individuals. We hold Legal Aid contracts in debt/housing; immigration/asylum; public law and for the Duty Desk scheme at the local County Court. Additionally, we have agency arrangements in place to enable us to offer legal aid for the Upper Tribunal in Welfare Benefits cases, and for face to face work in discrimination law.

We have an active volunteer team, which includes pro bono lawyers, law students and local people who want to support our work. We currently run a weekly volunteer form filling clinic to assist with initial benefit applications.

The Trainee will have the opportunity to work in a range of our teams, and to work alongside some very experienced lawyers who are leaders within their fields. Within the context of their role, and under appropriate supervision, they will deliver advice, undertake casework and provide representation in agreed areas of social welfare law. In addition to our legal expertise, we have developed specialist work with young people, work with migrant communities, and in strategic litigation. We also have a significant client base of people with mental health issues and with disabilities. We would be keen to explore with the Trainee ways in which we could develop our work in new ways, building on these strengths.

For further information, visit our website.

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