Nottingham Law School, part of Nottingham Trent University, has applied to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for an alternative business structure (ABS) licence that would allow it to create a “teaching law firm”.
The application is believed to be the first made by a university and, if granted, would apply to the law school’s newly expanded Legal Advice Centre.
The centre is already set to take on in excess of 180 pro bono cases in 2014-15 in various areas of the law including employment, housing, business and intellectual property. The work of the centre not only includes student work on cases, but also local community outreach, miscarriages of justice, public legal education and overseas placements.
In a statement, the law school said an ABS licence was seen as giving the centre flexibility in its future development. “ABS status would place Nottingham Law School in a unique position in the university sector, and enable its students to participate in the work of a teaching law firm.”
Jenny Holloway, associate dean of Nottingham Law School, said: “Nottingham Law School has been delivering innovative and transformational legal education for 50 years, and the creation of an ABS platform for our law centre would represent an exciting new phase of development.
“The application for ABS status demonstrates the law school’s commitment to continued innovation which enhances our students learning experience, and shows Nottingham Trent University’s commitment in supporting access to justice in its civic and community role.”
Nick Johnson, director of the Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre, added: “An ABS licence will enable us to expand and further develop the excellent work our students already do. Students at all levels of the law school will be able to gain experience of professional practice in the same way that medical students currently do at teaching hospitals.
“Ultimately, our students will be working in a fully regulated organisation as an integral part of their studies within the law school.”