On June 07, 2019 several members from the Centre for Legal Education, NLS along with other legal professionals, convened to discuss Health Justice Partnership in Legal Education. Collaboration, especially between social workers and lawyers was emphasized as a more holistic approach in meeting the growing complexities of legal challenges, which confront us in some of the most vulnerable societies. This collaborative approach is essential as it facilitates intermediaries to identify and address issues that lawyers are less equipped to handle.
Using the Canadian Model of Trusted Help as an exemplary approach, the importance of language and co-location was highlighted. Because law is transformative when done in the right way, it becomes important to consider how we can make changes in the way lawyers are perceived and how information can be better accessed for other people. Considering this, training is essential to up skill participants in these types of projects as well as promoting communal integration. This highlights the relevance of creating informal settings in building these trusted relationships. The Food Bank in Hammersmith, London was therefore used as an example for establishing better relationships with the community. However, in pursuit of building trust and improving these relationships, we must be aware of the dangers of metrification, which ultimately undermines the relationship-building process.
The question of bringing social work students, as well as nurses into law clinics was raised, as there is a lot of pro bono work which can be done by students of several disciplines, whilst bridging gaps in the availability of free legal advice to the vulnerable. This point to extensive barriers to be removed however, to ensure this collaboration envisioned can be successfully implemented.
Mitzie Williams is a Research Associate in the Centre for Legal Education at Nottingham Law School. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org