As part of its new University Enterprise Zone (“UEZ”) activity, the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is launching a pro bono legal service for small businesses in collaboration with Bristol law firm Gregg Latchams Ltd and international legal practice Osborne Clarke LLP. This support will be provided within the new Future Space Centre on Frenchay Campus.
The weekly Business and Law Clinic will provide pro bono legal advice to small businesses in Future Space and across the South West. The key objective of the innovative venture will be to provide SMEs, growing businesses and start-ups with business–legal advice at a critical stage in their development.
A selected group of law students, both undergraduates and postgraduate professional students, will provide the advice on areas such as corporate and commercial, employment, litigation and dispute resolution and tax. Supervised by practising solicitors from Gregg Latchams, Osborne Clarke and UWE Bristol, the students will gain real-world insight and experience, providing them with valuable skillsets and exposure to the world of business. In addition to the Clinic, students will also be providing ‘essentials’ workshops in the professional services of law and accounting.
UWE Bristol’s Future Space, which opened its doors on 15 August 2016, is part of a new University Enterprise Zone, one of four that have been set up nationally and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Assisting businesses specialising inrobotics, digital and creative technologies, biosciences and other high tech areas, UEZ will bring an estimated economy boost of £85m as well as over 450 new jobs to the region.
Donna Whitehead, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean who has led this initiative at UWE Bristol said, “This initiative deepens and broadens the University’s engagement with local businesses and the community and will really enhance the experience of our students in the Faculty, ensuring they are business–ready whilst also providing valuable expertise to growing businesses and start-ups at a critical stage in their development. We are delighted to be working with Osborne Clarke and Gregg Latchams.”
Peter Clough, Head of Osborne Clarke’s Bristol office said, “Future Space plays to the strengths of Bristol as a vibrant technology and enterprise hub, offering crucial space and advice for startups and SMEs in the area. We’re looking forward to seeing the innovative companies and working alongside the best and brightest students that UWE Bristol has to offer.”
Ken McEwan, Director and Head of Dispute Resolution at Gregg Latchams Solicitors said, “Gregg Latchams are particularly proud to be associated with this project having a strong presence in the digital, media and technology sector. This exciting venture offers a great opportunity for us to build relationships with companies of the future, demonstrates our commitment to SMEs and fills an important gap to provide support to new enterprise.”
The new Business and Law Clinic is in addition to the renowned pro bono work that already takes place within the law school at UWE Bristol. As well as the services being provided for businesses, students will also from the autumn be offering a new weekly drop-in service under the supervision of practitioner tutors at Citizens Advice Bristol’s offices in Fairfax Street. Advice will cover areas such as benefits, debt, employment and family matters. In June, its work withAvon & Bristol Law Centre won ‘Pro Bono Initiative of the Year’ at the nationalLawyer Awards 2016.
The launch event and first 30 mins clinics are scheduled to take place on Wednesday 12 October from 14:00-17:00 at Future Space. For small businesses wishing to sign up for this event – please register using the link below: UWE Business and Law Clinic – Launch Event and First Clinic.