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HerbEppel's picture

Environmental Law Foundation clinics

Agreements with a network of university law schools to provide ELF clinics

After a long lacuna period during which positive news has been scarce - as has, we are only too aware. communication from us - I am delighted to report some good news regarding the Environmental Law Foundation.

Specifically, having been operating on a 'skeleton' basis since last summer, we have created a new model for providing access to environmental justice which involves, in place of a single London advice & referral centre, a national network of such centres, each based within a university law department. Initially, these shall be:

• University of Law, London (formerly the College of Law) (agreement finalised)

• University of Manchester (agreement finalised)

• Nottingham Trent University (agreement in progress)

• University of West of England (a continuation of a service currently provided by Ben Pontin)

We are also in discussions with no fewer than seven other universities which have expressed a keen desire to join the network. Meanwhile Irwin Mitchell have generously offered to provide call handling services.

Some funding issues remain, but these agreements will enable us to put in place this new model for providing access to environmental justice from October 2013, starting from at least three centres with more to follow.

Outline of the new model:

More support of the right kind, at each level
At a time of increasing threats to legal aid and the funding difficulties faced by many, providing access to environmental justice is more important than ever.

Supervised by university lawyers and/or ELF member lawyers, each university will run open clinics to deal with the hundreds of requests for help that we receive each year. They will provide vital early-stage guidance to the public and valuable experience to the students. As before, more complex, litigious and potential judicial review cases will be referred on to ELF member lawyers and technical experts.

ELF head office role: supervision, analysis, education and campaigning
The ELF head office team will be responsible for setting and maintaining processes and standards, and for aggregating, analysing and commenting upon enquiry data. Those analyses and other news will be sent to all members and to selected parliamentary committees, the press and other influential parties. We expect regional representation to generate a large increase in the volume of enquiries and subsequent data. This, in turn, will help us to do more of the events and campaigns for greater access to justice which we know our Friend members, in particular, welcome.

New roles and benefits for our Adviser members
We have already been in contact with some members who feel able to provide regular or occasional supervision when the university clinics are without a suitably qualified lawyer. We are most grateful for this support and for the positive attitude of the many members who welcome opportunities to help talented law students interested in environmental issues.

Such generosity of spirit is greatly welcomed, as is the fact that many members are happy simply to support our work. That said, the new model will enable us to offer additional member benefits. Foremost amongst these will be a much larger database and the ability for members to request particular 'interrogations' of that data, e.g. for the number and location of enquiries relating to a specific issue. It will also be possible for members to request additional research.

Please, if applicable, renew your membership at this exciting time!

Since its formation in 1992, ELF has empowered local people and disadvantaged communities, helping them to ‘stand up to the big guns’ when their environment suffers. This new way of working will enable us to do much more for such people AND for student lawyers and our members.

Consequently, we very much hope that you will continue your involvement with ELF. Our membership network remains at the heart of our offering to those in need and vital to our ongoing efforts. If you need renew your membership - or would like to make a donation - please visit www.elflaw.org and follow the link from the home page.

We look forward to working with you.

Yours,

Stephen Tromans QC
Chairman
Environmental Law Foundation