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University lecturers and solicitors explain how the Community Law Clinic benefits both students and members of the local community, with insights from students and a member of the public who successfully used the service.

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Community Law Clinic

Feeling lost with your legal problem? The University of Exeter Community Law Clinic can help.

In an effort to fill the gap left by legal aid cuts, the Community Law Clinic opened its doors in September 2017.

How does one enforce their rights in an overly complicated and expensive system? With help from those that are trained in such system.

Third year law students, under supervision from the legal community, provide a variety of free legal services to members of the public. These services range from simple form filling/letter writing to legal advice. Having a variety of specialized clinics, allows individuals to obtain focused and personalized attention to their cases. By collaborating with legal professionals, the students gain valuable skills, while at the same time, providing a quality service.

Together as a community, we can make a difference and provide access to justice. 

Since the cuts to legal aid that came into effect in 2013, many individuals living locally who previously qualified for legal aid now struggle to access free legal advice. Where people are not automatically entitled to legal aid, they can make an application directly to the Legal Aid Agency for Exceptional Case Funding (ECF).

ECF applications can be complex to draft, as individuals must state the nature of their case, why they are requesting help with their legal fees and why they could not represent themselves. For immigration applications, some applicants do not speak English as their first language, or have limited literacy in English.

The Legal Aid Agency has a duty to provide funding for free legal advice if an applicant has limited means and their human rights would otherwise be breached. However, the take up of ECF has been limited since the scheme was introduced.

Aims of the clinic

1. Raise awareness about the availability of ECF for people not automatically entitled to legal aid for immigration matters;

2. Provide support to individuals who require assistance with ECF applications.

Services provided

Trained law students will assist with ECF applications under the supervision of clinic staff.

We would also be happy to discuss creating specific referral pathways or setting up in-house support with organisations or legal practices that would benefit from the additional capacity.


Download an ECF Clinic Referral Form


Open to 3rd years.
Commitment time expected: one half day per week plus training time. 

University of Exeter students will guide and support you through the stages of any legal problem - employment, benefits claims appeals, housing issues, debt, and criminal matters - free of charge by appointment only. Students will conduct the interviews and provide legal advice while supervised by a solicitor and or barrister.


The availability of immigration advice and legal aid services in the southwest is very limited. In response to this the university has set up a service for individuals who are unable to afford private representation, but require immigration advice, information or assistance – either for themselves or a family member.

Aims of the clinic

1. Provide a specialist advice and immigration service for those who are otherwise unable to afford representation;

2. Develop local capacity and networks to support organisations working with those who require immigration advice.

Services provided

The clinic will be a free, by appointment, service. It will be run by trained law students under the supervision of practising solicitors. The service will provide limited advice and information, signposting, and assistance with completing forms. Types of case may include:

  • Article 8 family and private life claims
  • Refugee Family Reunion
  • Registration of children as British citizens
  • EU family rights
  • Statelessness

Priority will be given to individuals who show a particular vulnerability or urgent need, such as destitution and risk of homelessness.

Download an Immigration Clinic Referral Form and email it back to the address below.


Open to students taking the Immigration Law module.


Everyone deserves to have a voice in matters affecting their environment. In collaboration with the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), the Environmental Law Clinic takes on cases involving environmental law issues. Services include information and advice to individuals and communities. Under the supervision of local barristers and solicitors, students have the opportunity to develop a variety of professional skills, including client interviewing, fact investigation, specialised legal research, and legal writing and drafting.


Open to students taking the Environmental law and Planning module.

High risk doesn’t necessarily come with high pay. University of Exeter students provide a free will making service to those that protect us—first responders. This clinic holds drop-in will drafting sessions. At the sessions, students will complete intake sheets and under the supervision of a solicitor, draft a will for the first responder.

The Wills Clinic also provides this service to University of Exeter employees.

Please contact us at to find out when the next drop-in session occurs.