Immigration and Asylum, Employment and Welfare Benefits Law
Senior Solicitor/Training Principal
37 hours per week
North East Law Centre (NELC), is a charity established in 1978, and a member of the Law Centres Network (LCN). NELC provides free legal advice to people across the North East who cannot afford to pay for a solicitor and who are not eligible for funded legal advice through legal aid. Until recently our name was Newcastle Law Centre, but as we developed more work across the North East it became appropriate to change our name. We currently have 7 trustees, 15 staff and 7 volunteers.
Most of our work is in support of areas no longer funded by legal aid. For this purpose, we develop services that are targeted at groups of the community who have the greatest need such as the unemployed and low paid, disabled people, BME communities, and women and children. We currently run a range of legal advice and representation projects in asylum, immigration, family, welfare benefits, education and discrimination law, as well as targeted community legal education and employment work. We are funded by a range of charitable sources including Big Lottery, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Baring Foundation, AB Charitable Trust, The Legal Education Foundation and also have grants from Newcastle City Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria.
We also provide a range of work to support organisations in the voluntary and community sector, including training programmes, development and partnership work to improve capacity and to develop new ways of working with clients.
NELC supported over 1195 clients in the year up to March 2018.
This is an exciting and unique opportunity for a legal graduate with a demonstrable commitment to social welfare law and access to justice to train as a solicitor within an organisation dedicated to delivering services that supports access to justice for clients in the North East.
Funded by The Legal Education Foundation (LEF), we are offering a training contract over 2 years. Applicants will need to have passed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) prior to applying for this role.
In the first year, the role will focus on our work with Victims of Crime particularly domestic violence. You will have the opportunity to work on CICA applications and with family law clients. In the second year, we expect to offer seats in Immigration and Asylum, Employment and Welfare Benefits Law, but other opportunities may arise subject to Law Centre funding. Alongside your seats, you will also develop a new project that will support sector partners to consistently adopt legal and human rights-based approaches in their work to increase access to justice. The Centre Director will provide a steer and additional support on the project.
You will assess clients’ suitability for our services, and work alongside our solicitors to provide legal advice and assistance to clients who are eligible for our services. Some of this work will be done from our main office but you will also be expected to work from outreach locations in the community across the North East as the service develops.
Duties and Responsibilities
Deal with new enquirers who contact the Law Centre by telephone or by dropping in without an appointment or in outreach in the community). S/he will speak to them, assess their needs for advice and/or assistance, and refer them appropriately either to Law Centre projects or to another more appropriate source of help.
Develop and maintain a register of contacts and organisations to which clients can be referred as appropriate.
Under supervision by the training supervisor, run a caseload of clients, initially dealing with a range of civil law queries but specifically to include supporting clients requiring family law advice.
Work with solicitors to carry out casework, including, where appropriate, representation in court and tribunal for clients on a range of civil law matters.
Support work of specialist solicitors on specific client files as required.
Build links with other organisations working with clients or potential clients of the Law Centre.
Maintain accurate records of clients and referrals and signposting to enable the Director to monitor and evaluate the services provided.
Accept supervision from other staff as appropriate and undergo training where necessary.
Work closely with the community paralegals as required.
Support reception duties when required
Data entry, maintenance and retrieval of computerised information for cases, to include opening and closing case files.
Provide support for legal surgeries and workshops as required.
Assist with the preparation of marketing materials, including leaflets, annual report, website and other publications.
Deal with reporting IT queries to IT support and be liaison where required.
Work alongside law centre volunteers offering support and guidance where required.
Maintain accurate records and filing systems in accordance with agreed procedures.
Assist with day to day petty cash transactions.
Support preparation for any external events or training, including room booking and set up, compiling materials, dealing with bookings.
Contribute to Quality Assurance procedures and maintain a high level of confidentiality.
To provide excellent customer service at all times, to staff and clients.
To attend team meetings and undertake tasks allocated at such meetings.
To have regard at all times to the planning and execution of duties outlined in the Law Centre’s Equal Opportunities Policy.
To attend regular supervision meetings with your supervising solicitor to discuss job performance and personal career development and to prepare suitably for these meetings.
In addition to the tasks and duties listed in the job description, to undertake such duties as may be identified from time to time and which are generally compatible with the functions for the post.
NOTE: The above duties are not an exhaustive list. In consultation with the appointee, it may be subject to variations made by the management to reflect or anticipate changes in or to the role.
We are looking for a candidate with genuine compassion towards vulnerable clients, a passion for access to justice and an approachable and unflappable manner. You should be able to clearly demonstrate your interest in social welfare law and building a career as a social welfare lawyer.
Practical experience of conducting advice casework on behalf of clients in a legal practice or advice-giving environment.
A Bachelor’s degree (2nd Class Upper Division - 2.1) and must have passed the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Interviewing and negotiating skills.
Advocacy skills and experience of or demonstrable willingness to attend and represent clients in tribunal.
Experience of working in a pressured environment, meeting targets and deadlines and an ability to cope with pressure at work
Able and willing to work in outreach situations in the community.
Experience of both face to face and telephone customer service delivery.
Experience of working with vulnerable and/or challenging client groups and a demonstrable commitment to doing so.
Experience of working in a team of staff and volunteers.
Good organisational skills and ability to undertake administrative tasks.
IT skills including typing and use of MS Office and Excel.
Candidates should also have:
Commitment to delivering a high standard of customer service.
Commitment to the Law Centre’s policies and to work within the Equal Opportunities Policy.
Ability to work within the policies and guidelines as decided by the Board of Trustees, and the ability to promote and defend the aims, interests and policies of the Law Centre within other organisations and the community.
Willingness to work occasional evenings and weekends.
Experience of working in a not for profit environment.
Specific experience in welfare benefits, debt, housing, immigration or another area of civil law.