A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A LAW STUDENT - INTERNSHIP
Internship at Brent Community Law Centre
Written by Rebecca Reid
Brent Community Law centre is a charity provider of quality legal support services in the community of Brent. The friendly and well-established nature of the centre and their commitment to ensuring clients understand their rights has been the driving force of my daily passion and enjoyment in experiencing work life in the different services of law.
The centre was established in 1972 with a mission to drive acts of positive change in the lives of those who are mostly vulnerable and socially excluded, by providing quality legal support services in areas of Social Welfare Law. The organisation is also a founding member of the Brent Advice Partnership, which oversees advice provision in Brent. They are also a committed member of the Brent Advice Network, consisting of other local advice agencies that operate in Brent. Furthermore, Brent Community Law Centre currently holds the Lexcel quality standard which is the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark for practice management and client care.
Although Brent Law Community Centre is a non-profit organisation, it can be seen as using marketing techniques comparable to the corporate world to satisfy institutional objectives. For example, the centre’s market segment focuses interest on a wide demographic of young people, middle aged/older people. The organisation also markets their legal support services to local clients in Brent. Moreover, the centre’s emphasis on ‘quality’ in their legal support services can be demonstrated by their specialised marketing strategy in giving them a competitive advantage in quality. In turn, this builds clients’ assurance of Brent Community Law centre’s quality provision.
According to 2018 records of the Labour Market Profile, published by Nomis Official Labour Market Statistics, Brent has a percentage rate of 5.3% regarding unemployment. This demonstrates a gap in the market for providing Legal Aid in the sector of employment, narrowing the divide between the employment and unemployment statistics in the Labour Supply records for the community of Brent.
The charity encourages a strong opportunity structure within the organisation to explore selective choices of work across the full spectrum of legal practice. This has sparked my enjoyment in exploring evaluative and perceptive courses of action from specific cases concerned with people in a current issue of employment, housing or immigration hardship.
Daily life at the Brent Community Law centre has consisted of core objectives throughout my eight-week internship. Many of which have included roles such as Case Management and Legal Administration, Case File Archiving, Disposal of Confidential Waste, Accounting, Photocopying and Scanning of legal documents, operating online phone call systems, Diary Management and Drafting Letters for homelessness applications. Such tasks were performed either independently or as a group. Accordingly, this has boosted my team working skills through means of effective communication by working collaboratively, using multi-disciplinary techniques with other group members. Furthermore, I was made responsible for registering new clients and cases onto the centre’s case management system, known as Advice Pro. I also witnessed the professional signing of clients’ travel documents by a senior solicitor on several occasions.
However, where there was an office closure of the centre due to staff shortages, I drafted, printed and displayed a sign of advice on the door to inform clients to re-visit the centre for queries or call back for telephone advice when the office reopened the next day.
Through practising such areas of work throughout my eight-week placement at the organisation, I have been able to develop skills of independent thought by critically evaluating logical chains of reasoning on case judgements through intensive research into client cases. In addition, I have developed building stronger working relationships with organisational staff in order to increase levels of productivity and efficiency, through working collaboratively in the interest of the community centre. I have also developed a better working knowledge of Microsoft Word in drafting letters and email management.
Working at Brent Community Law Centre has also helped me to reaffirm confidence and appreciation of my existing qualities, such as the fact that I am a good communicator, dependable, hard-working, enthusiastic and honest. I am also great at research tasks and able to grasp information quickly. I also solidified recognition of key transferable skills that I have obtained throughout the years by participating in work experience at the Radisson Hotel, Apex, and Smart Cover Insurance, where I displayed a great service culture in face to face contact with customers and good teamworking skills with people from all walks of life, whether it was in interactions with professionals, clients or colleagues.
Overall, my internship experience at Brent Community Law Centre was a pleasurable one. The friendly and well-established nature of the centre and their commitment to transfigure misunderstanding of legal rights into a complete comprehension of them, has sparked my comfortable familiarity with the organisation and their acts of charitable legal work. Throughout my experience at the centre I was trusted to work with minimal supervision, and this helped to fortify a relationship of trust and confidence with those I worked alongside. Where I found a task difficult, I asked for clarity and assistance, and embraced change with a positive attitude and adopted a culture of optimism in those situations. Significantly, I have gained personal and specialist insight into the prestigious legal careers of solicitors, legal caseworkers, supervisors, as well as legal volunteer managers.