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Law Student Representation Project

Law Student Representation Project

Volunteering opportunities with Wolverhampton City Council Welfare Rights Service.

What is it?

  • A joint initiative between Wolverhampton City Council (Welfare Rights Service) and the University of Wolverhampton Law School.
  • Provides appeals representation to vulnerable and disadvantaged people living in Wolverhampton who are in dispute with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over entitlements to benefit.
  • The focus is on the law and legal framework surrounding Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and sanctions*

What do Law Student Representatives do?

  • Attend training sessions
  • Meet with appellants
  • Prepare appeals paperwork/written submissions
  • Attend and represent at appeal hearings

You will be mentored and supervised by Welfare Rights Officers within the Welfare Rights Service.  

Benefit to students

  • Gain experience of working within a legal setting where there is dispute between two parties.
  • Enhance your CV with skills and knowledge developed in ‘real world’ work situations.
  • Develop your self confidence and critical analysis skills.
  • Training gives an in-depth insight into some areas of social security benefit law which, even if you do not progress to become a volunteer representative, provides you with knowledge and skills useful for your future careers.

Project's achievements so far

  • 89% success rate at first tier Tribunal level
  • Two cases lost at the First-tier Tribunal level were successful at further appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
  • £638,620 in annualised benefit gains for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Wolverhampton.

Law Student Feedback

"I really do want to help people who are not able to help themselves. I want to be a lawyer and this is an this is an excellent way to show my commitment to the law to future potential employers."

"The Law Student Representation Project has been worthwhile; helping those most vulnerable in society when they have no other voice is very rewarding. It has also helped me to develop my confidence and presentation skills in formal situations. The training was comprehensive and you always have a mentor at hand for advice."

"The in-depth training received on the law student project has empowered me to confidently represent clients in tribunals. It has been an invaluable, enjoyable and rewarding experience that I would recommend any law student take part in."

"While handling these appeals, I have been able to practice my interviewing, note-taking, research and file management skills. My drafting skills have been greatly improved – I have even had very good feedback from some Tribunal Judges regarding my written appeal submissions. This has given me confidence, and I am even more motivated to continue doing my very best to try to achieve positive results for the appellants. The informal nature of the Tribunal hearings is a welcomed introduction to court proceedings and the judiciary. I am hoping to further improve my oratory skills with each oral presentation. My greatest delight being a Representative is experiencing the joy and relief expressed by the clients when they have won their appeals. Sometimes though, I think I am even happier than they are. Again, this further motivates me to do my best for them.

"I am of the opinion that the Programme is an absolute necessity, and is extremely beneficial to those citizens of Wolverhampton who are in dispute with the Department of Work and Pensions over their entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance."

"Great experience for my CV. Great to provide support to vulnerable people who cannot afford to pay for legal advice and would otherwise not have a voice at appeal."

Appellant feedback

"I felt a lot more confident having someone sitting next to me who was on my side. It was a big help having someone in the room with me who knew the rules."

"It was amazing knowing that someone would be there to support us. We could not have won the appeal without your help."

Interested? What happens next?

The Law School will arrange a briefing session by staff from the Welfare Rights Service. This will be followed by training sessions, observing tribunal hearings and a formal application and interview process. If successful at interview, two references will be sought and you will also need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check .

*ESA is a benefit for those who by reason of ill-health/disability may be considered to be too sick to work. PIP is a benefit for people who by reason of physical and/or mental condition require support with daily living and/or who have poor mobility. JSA/ESA sanctions are where benefit is substantially reduced or stopped altogether, often unreasonably.