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UTech's Faculty of Law to establish Legal Advice Centre

Published:Sunday | January 23, 2011 | 12:00 AM

The Faculty of Law at the University of Technology (UTech) has announced plans for the establishment of a Legal Advice Centre that will provide legal advice for members of the public who are socially, economically or otherwise disadvantaged. Initially, the UTech Legal Advice Centre will operate at UTech campus locations in Portland, Trelawny, St James, the Corporate Area campuses and later extended to other parishes.

Dean of the Faculty of Law and former director of prosecutions, associate professor, Kent Pantry, said that the soon-to-be-established Centre "will be a significant benefit to communities who will benefit from advice to solve many of their day-to-day problems, while students will be able to obtain hands-on training in several areas of law." He noted further that many overseas universities incorporate Legal Aid Clinics and Legal Advice Centres as part of the undergraduate training curriculum.

The UTech Legal Advice Centre will:

Advise persons how to handle legal, administrative and other problems

Refer persons to organizations which provide social and other services

Recommend the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (negotiation and mediation) and arbitration

Assist in obtaining and improving justice for the poor and disadvantaged

The UTech Legal Advice Centre will be student-centred and interactive. Under the supervision of an attorney-at-law, it will provide second and third year UTech undergraduate law students with practical training and skills in a social-justice context while meeting the legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Students will obtain academic credit for their work at the Centre. The service provided by students will include:

Interviewing prospective clients

Taking statements about their problems

Identifying the issue or issues to be resolved

Providing a brief with recommendations to the attorney on duty

The attorney-at-law will provide advice to the client. The advice may either be a final determination of the issue or point the client to the way forward, which could be to obtain legal aid from a legal-aid clinic in order to proceed to court or to have relevant documents drafted, where necessary.