Fellow: Pamela Lalbachan

South West London Law Centres

SWLLC is a community based legal practice and a registered charity. Our history dates back to 1974 when the first Law Centres in Wandsworth were created. We became SWLLC in 2004 through the merger of a number of Law Centres in South West London.

We work across six South West London boroughs (Croydon, Merton, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth) helping people to understand and enforce their legal rights. In doing so, we address the root causes of social injustice – poverty, family breakdown, unemployment and exploitation. Every year, we help thousands of people from all walks of life

We now work across six South West London boroughs (Croydon, Merton, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth) helping people to understand and enforce their legal rights. In doing so, we address the root causes of social injustice – poverty, family breakdown, unemployment and exploitation. SWLLC provides full legal casework, representation and advice in the following areas of social welfare law – Community Care, Debt, Employment, Housing, Immigration & Asylum and in a limited way in Welfare Rights. We represent clients in all courts and tribunals. In 2015/16 we opened 2700 cases and carried forward 1,681 from the previous year. We also provide the housing duty solicitor schemes at Croydon, Kingston and Wandsworth County Courts giving emergency representation in possession hearings for rent and owned homes and at the warrant stage for evictions. In 2015/16 we represented 1681 people in court.

SWLLC has a long history of using volunteers since 1977 and our first pro bono clinic started in 1982 in conjunction with a local Citizens Advice Bureau. In 1986 the first clinic run by an individual firm started with Simmons & Simmons. SWLLC delivers 15/16 pro bono clinics each week to provide initial advice on legal problems concerned with Crime, Criminal Injury, Consumer, Employment, Family, General Litigation, Housing, Immigration, Inquests, Motoring Offences, Personal Injury, Small Claims and Wills & Probate. The overarching aim is to empower clients by encouraging them to take steps to resolve their problems themselves but advisers may also carry out a limited amount of follow-up work such as drafting documents or writing letters on clients’ behalf. The work is important because addressing legal problems in their early stages can prevent them from escalating into bigger, more complex problems. In 2015/16, 4477 people were assisted. We estimate in any one year over 400 volunteer lawyers will help with our clinics. There are 16 firms involved with the clinics as well as individual solicitors.

The Law Centre has recently been awarded Big Lottery Money to enable to us build a welfare rights project with students. This will launch in September and the trainee has a chance to have a significant involvement with this project and its exciting future.

The Law Centres Debt Team has been recently shortlisted for the IMA Debt Team of the Year Award 2016 and our Housing Team has been shortlisted for the Solicitors Journal Awards Firm of the Year Award.

The Team

The law centre has 20 casework staff of which 12 are solicitors. The casework staff are divided into the following teams; debt, employment, housing and immigration. Community care and welfare rights work is undertaken within the housing team.

Context of the Post

The trainee will, within the context of training as a solicitor and under the supervision of qualified solicitors, undertake advice, casework and representation in agreed areas of social welfare law covering the topics of housing, immigration, community care, employment and welfare benefits and some public law.

For further information, visit our website.

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