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Enterprise Legal Advice Clinic – Student Director Interview


Daniel Scrase (DS), Emily Evans (EE), Raagamayee Lingam (RL) and Conrad Palejowski (CP) are interviewed by the Enterprise Clinic Manager Veronica Barresi (VB) about their role as Enterprise Clinic Student Directors this year.

VB: What were your expectations when you accepted your role as Student Director at the Enterprise Clinic?

DS: I have had a similar past experience so I thought the work would mirror that role. It does, but with the added excitement of working with a completely different client group – I have very little experience with the world of business.

CP: I was a Student Adviser last year, so had a general understanding of the position. I expected it to be administrative in nature with some management responsibilities – by and large it is as I expected.

EE: Like Conrad, I had been an Adviser before and so had an idea of how the Clinic worked. I expected there to be less client contact than there turned out to be, so that was a pleasant surprise.

RL: I went thinking it would be mostly admin and legal drafting, but it was so much more than that. The amount of client interaction, learning about legal operations, and how to use case management software were an added plus.

VB: What are the “lawyering” or transferable skills you have mostly acquired or developed at the Clinic?

DS: Gaining an insight into the nuts and bolts of providing legal advice from beginning to end. I’m also a Clinic Assistant so I speak to clients at the beginning of their journey with BPP Pro Bono Centre, manage their case as a Student Director and then have also worked as an Adviser.

CP: Chasing clients has been an interesting insight. You must be able to ease people into a conversation they may not be willing to have. Sometimes clients are not available, so you must be flexible, firm and succinct.

EE: How to manage a client and their case, both before and after their appointment. It was key to build a relationship with the client, even if it was just to ensure the documents were provided on time. Managing expectations and remaining professional on video calls was also important.

RL: Understanding the ins and out of the operations of a legal clinic and communicating with clients and advisers are skills the Student Director role has helped me develop. The process of being responsible for a client each week has certainly helped me build my management and operational skills.

VB: Would you advise next year students to take a role at the Clinics and why?

DS: Yes! The most important reason is because it’s fun and flexible. I’ve never felt unduly pressured by the work and it makes the law feel a lot more visceral than class ever can. Law is competitive so being able to gain an opportunity like this relatively easily is fantastic. It feels like we are seedlings encouraged to grow in the greenhouse of university. The Enterprise Clinic has been a great source of training alongside my academics. I have often found that course material is directly applicable to a client’s matter, so it serves as a great reinforcement of your studies. I’d highly recommend it.

EE: Absolutely. Seeing cases develop and problems solved is a hugely rewarding experience. Our clients are always very grateful for the time we give up, and in return we can test our skills in real world commercial scenarios.

RL: Without a doubt. For anyone wondering about how to gain legal experience, the Student Director role is such a wonderful opportunity. You get to experience so much more by doing your education and working with the clinic in tandem. The fact that you get to meet amazing team members and managers and learn from them should be reason enough to work as a Student Director.

VB: What is the most valuable lesson that you have learned in dealing with real cases and real clients at the Clinic?

DS: Humanity – clients really appreciate being down to earth, up front and honest about the work. I’m not the kind of person to put on airs and graces and although I’m polite and professional it’s important to be genuine. Clients feel you have a better understanding of their case, and they aren’t just a number in a queue.

CP: It sounds a touch corny, but the position has highlighted the importance of compassion in law. Many clients approach the Clinic at a point of crisis, so a calm and attentive ear is as important to support them as the final legal advice.

EE: Although a client comes to us with their problem, they may not be fully comfortable in talking about it. It is important to put them at ease and ensure they understand the reasoning behind any questions.

RL: Giving the best advice for the client, even when it’s something the client would not like to listen to. Unfortunately, sometimes the best action to take legally might not be what the client expects. Regardless, I have learnt to let them know what we think the best option is, give them alternatives, and help them understand the pros and cons of all avenues.

VB: What aspects did you enjoy most of working in a team and what were the challenges?

DS: Within the Student Director team I’m very lucky. When one is struggling, others step in to pick up the slack. We’ve also had great support from Angela and Veronica (the Enterprise Clinic Managers and Supervising Solicitors). The biggest challenge has been to not jump to conclusions when I see imperfection. I tend to want everything done a particular way so accepting others’ points of view can be difficult.

CP: A big challenge, one which I think we have managed well, is maintaining consistency throughout the year. The Clinic has developed clear and efficient systems that underpin the Clinic’s success, but naturally miscommunication can lead to confusion. Fortunately, a team allows for effective problem solving. Every member is willing to take ownership of a task and that has been extremely helpful.

EE: As Daniel said, I think we have done a great job of supporting each other. During exam periods it becomes difficult to balance work with the Clinic. Stepping in for each other and sharing the load when it is needed has made it easier. We often have different views on the systems, and I think that allows us to find the optimal solution through collaboration.

RL: Adding on to my incredible fellow Student Directors, I enjoyed just working together with everyone. I have had the pleasure to learn something from all of them and our ever-encouraging clinic managers. The ownership of everyone to help make a better system for the clients and the clinic is inspiring.

VB: Thanks so much to all and each of you for the outstanding support and commitment you offered to the Enterprise Clinic this year. It has been fun and insightful working with you all and watch you growing in the role.