If you find yourself in need of legal advice as a student, it can feel like quite a daunting task. You might be unsure of who to contact or how to gain access to the support you need. Depending on the advice that you require, you may be able to access it for free. Below are HYBR’s recommendations for reliable sources of free and low-cost legal advice.
Citizens Advice provides confidential over the phone or in person support for a variety of issues, including employment, financial concerns, benefits and housing. They’re firm believers in remaining impartial, and have a network of charities that offer free, independent advice to help you solve your problems. In total, their advisors have helped an impressive 2.8 million people in person, by phone, web chat or email. If you’re seeking legal advice, their website is a great place to start. If you decide to speak with a solicitor, an advisor at Citizens may be able to help you figure out what questions to ask them in the initial appointment.
Some solicitors offer 30 minutes of free legal advice - you can call a solicitors office to check their availability and set up an appointment. It’s a good way to gain an understanding of your rights, legal standing and whether you should consider taking your case to court. Be sure to ask your solicitor’s office what documents you will need to bring to your appointment, so you’re prepared in advance. The Law Society website offers in-depth guidance of how to choose the right solicitor for you and prepare for your first appointment.
You may be able to speak with a solicitor or trained legal advisor at a law centre. The Law Centres Network website offers a list of available law centres, and you can search for the nearest one to you. These centres tend to cover issues such as: benefits, discrimination, education, employment, housing, family, immigration and asylum.
Some universities offer free legal advice through a ‘pro bono’ service. Usually, you will be interviewed by a law student, who will be accompanied by a qualified lawyer. They will then undertake research and provide you with free legal advice. This is part of the students’ training to become lawyers. The University of Law offers this service in a variety of cities, including Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Manchester. Your current university may offer something similar.
Don’t be afraid to speak with loved ones or your university’s student wellbeing and support services if a legal issue is worrying you. Speaking to someone on the list above is a great first step to finding the legal advice and support you need. For further legal aid or financial concerns, there are resources available on the government website.