Turpin & Miller Clinic
Since its foundation, Oxford Legal Assistance has been concerned with improving access to justice, and the Turpin & Miller Scheme is one of the ways in which we strive for this goal. Each week undergraduate volunteers assist local legal aid law firm, Turpin & Miller LLP, in providing a triage-style legal clinic which deals primarily with immigration, asylum and human rights issues. Students interview clients, taking their history, and look to uncover any facts that may assist their case. This economises the time of the firm’s solicitors, who after learning the relevant facts from student volunteers are in a position to offer legal advice.
As the legal aid purse strings are pulled ever tighter, the purpose of the immigration clinic extends further than looking for meritorious cases and taking them on; rather, it provides people otherwise unable to even consider instructing lawyers to find out what their legal options are for free.
Volunteers are also given the opportunity to work on a case or series of ongoing cases. In providing chronologies, testing the evidence, and researching complex or arguable points of law, the students are in a position to meaningfully assist the progress of legal aid claims.
Profiles of our Volunteers:
We asked our volunteers why they work with our programme and what they feel they get out of it. This is what they said:
Caroline, Turpin and Miller Liaison Officer:
I got involved with OLA to make a real difference to the community and see how my studies could be applied in practice. Working with T&M and the volunteers to provide free legal clinics for those affected by human rights, immigration and asylum issues has been incredibly rewarding. Seeing how the law affects real people in such an personal way motivates me to study harder and constantly reminds me why I chose to study law. Being the only organisation in Oxford to provide undergraduate law students with opportunities to undertake pro bono work, I strongly believe in OLA’s value and I would recommend the T&M scheme to every law student in Oxford.
I joined T&M for two reasons: I wanted to see what working in legal aid was like, and I wanted to see the kind of environment that a small local firm provides. I have loved being able to learn more about immigration and asylum law and get involved in real cases and real stories rather than spending time just learning about them in theory. Seeing solicitors and their work in practice has been an incredibly valuable experience, and the sessions have given me the chance to try interacting with clients and see a bit of the administrative side of legal work.
I got involved in the Oxford Legal Assistance Programme, and the Turpin & Miller scheme specifically, because I believe that justice should be accessible to all. This has been one of the most fundamental principles of our society, and with the recent cuts to legal aid, this principle is slowly crumbling. As an OLA volunteer, I work with Turpin & Miller during their legal aid clinics where I interview potential legal aid clients and draft chronologies of the facts of their case, which the solicitors can then use to determine whether or not they’ll be eligible for legal aid. It’s a really good way to develop confidence as well, because it’s client facing, and you have to be able to maintain professionalism at all times. I’ve learned so much about the world of legal aid through this programme, and I’m really proud to be part of something like this.
Working with Turpin and Miller has been a real privilege- the insight it’s given me into the lives of the clients we interview week after week has been valuable in enlivening much of what we study academically. It’s left me wishing we could do more- but hopeful about the little we can do as law students. The patience the solicitors display in guiding us and answering our questions have also made the sessions a great way to learn about the law in practice- the procedural aspects as well as the shortcomings of the current immigration laws.