Aberdeen Law Project is a cause that has featured on my blog before. Tonight, the student volunteers at the Project, with a bit of help from some supporters (notably the law firm Pinsent Masons), hosted a lecture by Lord Hope of Craighead at the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Hall. The event was a great success and many students, staff and figures of the local community were able to come along to see it. As is often the case with these student advocates of pro bono publico legal advice, I was able to hang on to their coat-tails and simply turn up to marvel at what they had managed to pull together.
Having such a lecture is all very well, but what about the actual successes of the Project? Once again, I can bask in the reflected glory of the students and direct you to the report of a recent test case at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where a client of the Project was able to successfully argue that an administration fee charged by a letting agent was actually an illegal premium. What a fantastic result. Rather than bore you with my analysis, I will let the (relatively short) decision speak for itself, but suffice it to say this is an important point of law and may have implications for the rented sector across the whole of Scotland.
The students at Aberdeen Law Project, and others at similar institutions across the country, are making a real difference to their local communities, whether in terms of their various outreach projects, in involvement in real-life cases where they assist someone unable to find legal advice elsewhere, or by showcase events like tonight’s lecture. Perhaps they can act as an inspiration for others.
One final word or two on inspiration, which I will leave to Lord Hope. He gave seven tips for aspiring, up and coming lawyers to conclude his lecture, as follows:
- Know your law, or know where to find it;
- Know your facts;
- Don’t assume what the law is said to be is always right;
- Preparation, preparation, preparation;
- Respect and adapt to your audience (i.e. be clear, simple and accessible in your language when necessary);
- Try not to let nerves get the better of you; and
- Don’t pass up opportunities.
Those seven points form a lesson for all lawyers, but the lesson is all the better when it is learnt early. The successful recent case at Aberdeen Sheriff Court shows it is a lesson that the students of the Project are already taking on board.