The firm, called SHU Law, is a fully regulated law firm designed to give students real live work experience during their studies. SHU Law was licensed by the SRA in January, and the University has converted one of its buildings into a fully-functional modern office.
Whilst it is common for universities to establish ways of exposing students to the practicalities of advising on real-life legal cases, Sheffield Hallam states it is the first university to have set up an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) law firm. The business will enable the University to incorporate work-experience into the core curriculum of its undergraduate Law and Law and Criminology degrees, and its post-graduate LLM. By launching its own firm, the University is not only educating students about the practicalities of working as a lawyer on ‘live’ cases, but also delivering legal services to local communities. Around 750 law students will pass through SHU Law during the course of their studies, and the firm has received a huge amount of support from other law firms with whom the plan is to work collaboratively and develop a network to refer clients both to and from SHU Law.
SHU Law is the innovation of Professor Elizabeth Smart, head of law at Sheffield Hallam University, who has set up the firm with the assistance of experienced solicitors Sally Mallinson-Ayres and Rebecca Draper. All the students working at SHU Law will be fully supervised and trained by Sally and Rebecca who are employed and work full-time at the law firm. Professor Smart said, ‘by placing our students at the centre of a live client clinical environment we are creating a unique learning opportunity that’s reflective of real-life practice. Sheffield Hallam is committed to providing applied learning opportunities for its students in order to help them succeed at whatever they choose to do.’ She added, ‘SHU Law will enhance their employability and graduate attributes in the world of work and inspire students academically and emotionally with the confidence to succeed. Legal education is nothing without a strong dose of commercial acumen.’ SHU Law will be formally opened on February 27 2019 by Professor Sir Christopher Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University.