It’s definitely not been a year that we expected for SHU Law and whilst everyone is still operating under some of the restrictions of the pandemic, our team has been fortunate to be able to return back to the office thus avoiding those embarrassing moments such as when the doorbell rings and the dogs bark!!
We came back originally in August 2020 and then had to go back into lockdown which was really disappointing for the team but like everyone else we’ve pulled together and when the word came that we could re-enter the building we did so without hesitation (as we could see how our absence was impacting our clients) but within the safety of our Covid-19 risk assessment and a culture of wanting to ensure that everyone remains safe and well.
The phones have rung none stop since that return and we hope that this is an indication that people are trying to return to normal in picking up their affairs whereas previously it seemed that people had become somewhat apathetic to their legal disputes and obviously other things were taking priority. Our casework is providing lots of opportunities for clients to gain access to justice and we have exciting plans ahead to broaden our portfolio of services so that we can help more people.
What we really miss is our students but having now seen a full cohort work through their SHU Law modules the feedback has been amazing and students really can see the value of applied learning – even if it has been online. Students who struggle academically are often motivated by the real life experience and it’s been rewarding for the team to see people build confidence and develop in this way with the results being demonstrated in their assessment grades. We can’t wait to hear more from our students as they advance into their employment.
Other successes have included one of our students, Chloe Cartwright, (who attended the training course with the Society of Mediators and forged working relationships with them) being awarded a scholarship. Similarly, we’ve been able to help grow the number of placements offered to LIP students through the SHU Law network and at least one student has been offered a job as a result of these new placements after impressing the law firm involved. Successes for clients have seen us attract our highest award of compensation to date at £22,500 and we’ve now saved clients over tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees by pursuing cases that in most instances would have been abandoned either because the clients didn’t know what to do or because other solicitors didn’t see the work as profitable.
SHU Law was also shortlisted for small law firm of the year and niche law firm of the year in the Yorkshire Legal Awards and whilst we didn’t win the fact that we were shortlisted as a relatively new law firm was a fantastic achievement for the team in recognising their hard work and dedication.
Collaboration is key for us and we’ve been working with other SHU departments to see how we can get groups of students working together or how our staff can help to educate other cohorts about legal issues. Ruth Dawson presented to computing students about Non Disclosure Agreements and we have further plans afoot regarding the development of legal technology using input from that department.
Hopefully the next few weeks will see us return to further degrees of normality but for a business that’s been in operation for less than three years we hold our heads high at the progress we’ve made to date, the flexibility of our team and the commitment of our students, clients and collaborative partners in helping to drive the business forward.