Adelina, one of our volunteers in Chelmsford, shares her experience of volunteering with us, and how it's helped her gain skills she'll use into the future.
As a final year law student, I consider that the experience and the knowledge I've gained while volunteering at Support Through Court in Chelmsford is invaluable and critical for my future legal career. Through volunteering, I have developed verbal communication skills, interview skills, negotiation skills, effective listening skills, writing skills, critically thinking skills, time management skills and practical legal skills. These are all top skills expected from any aspiring solicitor.
I have also developed mindfulness and empathy towards clients whilst discussing their cases and filling in forms for them, and also whilst attending court hearings and providing emotional support, which is sometimes all they need. Many clients who cannot afford legal advice and legal representation lack confidence and fear to enter the court rooms. All they need is someone to listen and understand them, provide moral support and give them reassurance that they are in control and strong enough to hold a statement in front of a judge and support themselves in the court. In spite of the vast information available out there on self-representation in court, not everyone has access to internet, not everyone speaks English as a first language, not everyone has the mental strength to stand up in front of the judge or in the same room as a perpetrator; these experiences can be daunting and intimidating for many clients. There are people around us who have no one to share their concerns with, ask for advice, ask for help or even recognise the signs domestic abuse. For this reason, volunteer assistance is paramount for any client who counts on our support.
Having the opportunity to experience different law practice areas, from child and family law, landlord and tenant law, property law, civil procedure cases based on money claims, personal injury and so much more has been a tremendous experience. Additionally, having attended court hearings, either remotely or in person, provided me with a better understanding of how the judiciary apply the law and the important principles resulting from their judgment. Nevertheless, whenever I assisted a client in court who also happened to win, I felt as if it was a personal achievement and that I won too.
Every case is unique, interesting and fascinating and my work at Support Through Court has indeed helped me significantly to enrich my legal knowledge. Studying civil litigation this semester made me realise how beneficial my volunteering work is as it helped me understand the practicalities of this module, most importantly the rules of civil procedures for anyone who brings a claim or defends a claim and what happens in the course of a typical process from A to Z. This particular module is critical for studying SQE and qualifying as a solicitor. I feel extremely lucky to gain practical experience for this module and gain further legal skills.
There are many times when I can see whether there is a case in action or not, whether an argument can be formed or not and whether there is any evidence to support a claim. Most clients behave emotionally, not all see and understand the legal issues and implications of their case, that’s why discussing their situation helps them avoid unnecessary claims.
A final observation is that this work experience has actually helped me to understand what area of law I would see myself working in the future, what I enjoy most and which law practice type I feel would best suit me. On a personal and professional level, it has been a plus in so many ways, most importantly volunteering days leave me with the sense that I made a positive contribution in someone else’s life. It's uplifting and rewarding. It makes me feel better and happier as an individual, knowing I'm helping the community in a positive way.
For all these reasons, working at Support Through Court in Chelmsford is an essential part of my personal development journey, a fascinating learning experience which is truly beneficial for my future legal career. Such an opportunity would positively impact anyone, especially law students, who will enhance their employability and learn new transferable skills.