Sheffield Hallam University has become the first in the UK to purchase dedicated legal software for use by its students.
The university’s renowned department of law and criminology has its own student-led law firm, known as the Law Clinic, which is authorised and regulated by the SRA, with students working under supervision on a range of personal injury, housing, holiday, consumer and small claims cases on a pro bono basis.
Now the department has signed a groundbreaking deal for SOS Connect  legal software from (SOS) for workflow, time recording, document and email management.
“We believe this is the first time that a UK university has bought such a widely-used commercial practice/case management system for its law students,” says Nigel Williamson, head of IT support at Sheffield Hallam University.
“We wanted a solution that would provide the best environment for training our students in a practical way. After looking at several products, we chose SOS Connect not only due to the flexibility of the product, but also the fact that SOS offered us a road map in terms of where the Law Clinic is, to where it wants to be.
“It soon became obvious that the needs of our particular institution were understood and could be addressed.”
Mr. Williamson said up to 50 students at any given time would be using SOS Connect, with several being based in other law firms as paralegals.
He said: “The benefits to students are obvious in as much as when they graduate, they will already be au fait with cutting edge legal software.”
David McNamara, managing director of SOS, said: “It has long been voiced that whilst law students are trained in the process of law, there is very little in the curriculum covering the business aspects of working in or running a law firm.
“Clearly Sheffield Hallam is addressing this head-on with its Law Clinic and also by implementing well-known commercial legal software, the likes of which law students will come to rely on daily in their future careers.
“Signing up for SOS Connect is a very forward-thinking move on the part of its law school and we are delighted to be part of such a pioneering initiative.”