We hosted sixty-two students from Cardiff University at our headquarters in Cardiff this week with a special event to mark the end of our annual Pro-Bono scheme aimed at introducing next-generation lawyers to the legal profession.
Since 2007 we've been working with Cardiff University, offering its law students the opportunity to take part in a pro bono scheme. The scheme focuses on the delicate issue of NHS funding for care home fees. The students involved gain real-life, hands-on experience of what it’s like to work at a law firm and how cases are handled.
This year, Wales’ leading law firm welcomed the largest cohort to date, with 62 students gaining experience of working on dummy files and developing key practitioner skills from client care, drafting and advocacy, enabling them to see the law in action.
During this closing session on Monday 13th March, the students had an opportunity to demonstrate the presentation skills they had developed by each performing a reflective piece on what they learnt from the scheme in groups.
Lisa Morgan, Partner, and Head of Nursing Care has been the scheme’s supervising solicitor since the scheme was set up with Cardiff University 16 years ago, which makes Hugh James the longest running pro-bono provider to work with Cardiff University.
She said: “We have had a fantastic scheme this year, our biggest yet. I have been very impressed with the commitment, enthusiasm, and depth of talent from the students. They have embraced each task and demonstrated key practitioner skills including advocacy, drafting and presentation. It has been fantastic to welcome the students to the office for the first time in four years and it gives me great pride to see the future generation of lawyers. I look forward to following their future careers.”
Katie Morgan, who participated in the Continuing Healthcare Pro Bono Scheme when she was a student at Cardiff University now works alongside Lisa in the Nursing Care team at Hugh James.
She said: “It has been fantastic to see how popular the Scheme has been this year and to have taught so many students about the niche area of continuing healthcare law as a practise area. A larger group of students has meant more diversity of discussion during the break-out sessions.
The students have been very engaged throughout all six of the sessions, making the most of learning not only about this area of law but in also developing many of the transferrable skills that are taught on the scheme such as reviewing records, drafting letters of advice to clients and advocacy at Independent Review Panels. After not having been able to have the final session at the office for four years, it has been lovely being able to welcome the students to our office and to receive the positive feedback they have of the Scheme in person.”
One of the students who took part in the scheme is Jess Adams who is due to begin her training contract with Hugh James next year.
She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the scheme, developing lots of skills including being able to present, my communications skills as well as learning to delegate in a team. Coming here, it was really nice to see people face to face and to interact with some paralegals and trainees and ask personal questions which relate to my own career journey. I’m really excited and looking forward to starting my training contract with the firm in 2024 and learning about the firm in more depth.”
Student Alex Kirilov added: “The scheme really helped me develop my oral skills because I probably hadn’t done a presentation in front of this many people since school, so it was a great experience and a learning curve.”
During the event, two paralegals from Hugh James, and former students of the scheme, delivered a talk about how the scheme helped with their employability and how they each transferred into a permanent role in the Nursing Care team.
Hawys Davies said: “It was wonderful to see this year’s enthusiastic cohort discussing all they have learnt over the past six weeks from the scheme. The chance to participate in the scheme is second to none, there are so many different areas of law which aren’t explored through university studies and being able to have a first-hand insight into how continuing healthcare works from experts within the field is an incredible opportunity.”
Jess Langan added: “Being able to take part in this pro bono scheme is such an insightful and valuable experience. The overall impact of the scheme has been instrumental to our career development and confidence.
“We are both so grateful to have taken part in the pro bono scheme and to have built such wonderful relationships with experts in the field of NHS continuing healthcare claims and we look forward to our futures with the firm as a result of the pro bono scheme.”
After recent years of limitations due to the pandemic and now the restrictions have fully lifted, this event was a perfect opportunity for the students to get involved with in-person interactions and experience the atmosphere of a city centre office for the first time.
Matthew Evans, Training Principal at Hugh James, commented: “Every year we interview candidates for training contracts who have undertaken our pro bono scheme, and it is always apparent that they have indeed learnt invaluable skills on the scheme, as well as having had their passion for the law and legal practice reinforced. The scheme is a great way to get an early practical taste of what it’s really like to be a lawyer.”
Hannah Marchant, Director of Employability at the School of Law and Politics, said: “The School of Law and Politics is hugely grateful to Hugh James for allowing the final pro bono session to take place at 2 Central Square. Students were extremely fortunate to hear from previous pro bono students Hawys Davies, Rebecca Morgan and Jess Langan, about how the scheme helped them to obtain their roles with Hugh James, and from Matthew Evans who talked about what Hugh James are looking for in their trainees. Opportunities to interact with legal professionals in this way have been very limited in recent years, and the School would like to thank Hugh James for facilitating this.
Each year, they have a positive impact on so many students, and this year was no different. Many thanks Lisa and Katie – we are looking forward to working with you again next year.”
Find out more about the Pro Bono Scheme and how you can get involved if you are a law student at Cardiff University.