Vauxhall Community Law and Information centre (VCLIC) provides a free legal advice service to residents of our community, the Liverpool City Region. The Centre has an excellent reputation for delivering a high quality free legal advice service. We are members of the Law Centre’s Network and provide services accredited to the Advice Quality Service Standard, who independently audit the standards and quality of the work we undertake.
We give advice on all Welfare benefits, specialising in disability benefits as we have identified it as being the largest and most important concern amongst our community. We also offer free legal advice on housing issues and debt issues, from fuel and utility debts to Council Tax arrears. We support our service users in a holistic manner to ensure that the approach we take when giving support and advice is exhaustive. We are extremely proud of the service that we provide, we continue to develop our advice service so that we can support the communities of Vauxhall and the Liverpool City Region for the foreseeable future.
The majority of our service users are vulnerable people and who often have illnesses, poor mental health and disabilities. They suffer from poverty and increasing debts often due to low income levels in the region. The Centre provides advice and support to many disabled peopled, carers, people with illiteracy, learning difficulties and mental health issues based in the Liverpool City Region.
Our service aims are;
Combat social exclusion by raising income levels, maximising benefits and helping to control debt levels through advice work
Make available to people advice and representation to which they would not otherwise have access so that they can better assert their rights
Provide a high quality, independent advice service which is free to users.
Reduce poverty and improve people’s sense of health and well-being and promote independence for disabled people and their carers through the provision of welfare law advice.
Promote equality and the active challenging of discrimination through advice and representation
To provide free legal advice, assistance and representation on all legal matters particularly to the residents or those employed in the Vauxhall district of Liverpool.
To conduct and contribute to research into any area of law and to disseminate the results of such activities.
Provide public legal education to individuals or other such community organisations on legal matters concerned with the welfare of deprived communities.
Promote a better understanding of the role of the law and the legal rights and duties of individuals.
Sponsor research into the legal needs of deprived areas.
There will be an opportunity to work in the debt, welfare benefits and housing team which is led by a solicitor who was formerly a Justice First Fellow and winner of the LAPG, Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year award. The Centre is seeking to obtain a Legal Aid contract to enable the post holder to run public law cases.
Responsibilities under supervision:
1. Advice and Casework
Provide high quality advice and representation to individual members of the public as appropriate.
To take on associated casework and to make applications for public funding as required.
To assist in the conduct of housing, debt, social welfare and public law cases.
To develop a case-load that are both in and outside of the scope of legal aid contracts.
Uphold high standards of case management, including keeping the client updated regularly, meeting deadlines and being proactive in progressing the matter.
To represent clients in the County Court or Tribunal as required.
Conduct legal research where necessary.
Assist in the preparation of papers, formal responses to consultations, reports and other materials and participation in meetings, conferences, seminars, training sessions and other events as appropriate.
To undertake any other duties as may reasonably be required by the Supervisor.
2. Training and development
The Trainee will seek to maximise opportunities for learning and development – both self-directed and via formal supervision and training. The Trainee will: -
Keep a record of training and review progress with their supervisor and the Training Principal.
Undertake all training necessary to qualify as a solicitor within two years, and attend courses on new legislation, specialist skills and the use of information technology.
Keep up to date with the changes in relevant legislation and read relevant online resources, journals and updates.
To develop a project that aims to increase access to justice and demonstrates the need for free, face to face, legal advice and representation.
3. Engagement in the wider work of the Law Centre
The Law Centre runs a number of services and projects, and the post holder will be given the opportunity to be involved in a range of work and strategic projects.
4. Equality and Diversity
The Law Centre's clients are largely on low incomes and come from a diverse range of minority ethnic groups. The post holder will be expected to show a particular interest in working with this client group and to show an understanding of equal opportunities issues. We especially encourage applicants who have lived-experience of the issues faced by our client group.
The post-holder will be required to comply with the Law Centre’s confidentiality policy in relation to client information. They will also be expected to ensure that commercially sensitive information is treated confidentially.
6. All employees have a duty to: -
Ensure that their work conforms to SRA, Lexcel, AQS and the LAA Quality Assurance standards and other Law Centre approved policies and procedures.
Work within the spirit of our Equal Opportunities Policy at all times.
Take due care of their own Health and Safety and that of others in their working environment.
Justice First Fellow – Trainee Solicitor
Undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above; to have successfully completed the Legal Practice Course by the commencement of the training contract
Knowledge & Understanding
Good understanding of social welfare law
Experience of working in areas of housing, debt and welfare benefits
Understanding of legal aid
Understanding of the impacts of cuts to legal aid on access to justice issue
Understanding the issues affecting low income communities as well as the needs of specific client groups
Understanding of and commitment to equal opportunities issues and its relevance to legal aid
Understanding of equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory principles and be able to apply them when dealing with colleagues and clients
Knowledge and understanding of the importance of fundraising to the sustainability of Law Centres
Skills and Abilities
Excellent communication skills (written, spoken and telephone)
Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
Ability to work as part of a team
Ability to conduct casework, organise and maintain files
Ability to use Case Management System
Ability to develop new ideas and relationships with different organisations
Ability to identify the potential for legal challenge (including by way of Judicial Review)
Ability to act as an advocate at Tribunal/Court
Ability to develop training material and to deliver presentations/training
Experience of writing or assisting in the drafting of funding bids for not for profit organisations
Willingness to work in line with policies and procedures as set down in the Quality Manual
Willingness to undertake a DBS check
Commitment to campaign on access to justice issues