The LLM in Access to Justice (A2J) is a distinct and unique clinical legal education course in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland, there being no comparable courses at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The course gives students the opportunity to develop legal advice and advocacy skills by allowing them to represent appellants in Industrial and Social Security Tribunals. Students will also have the opportunity to engage their interest in the provision of legal services more generally as they are required to develop and manage the ‘Ulster University Law Clinic’.
The function of the course is to supplement the existing range of legal service providers by focusing on, and meeting, ‘unmet legal need’ in the fields of employment law and social security law. In doing so, students are tasked to analyze ‘unmet legal need’, the availability and consumption of legal services and reflect on wider issues of access to justice, ‘equality of arms’, and dispute resolution.
Students are expected to attend all classes associated with the programme and be punctual and regular in attendance. In semester one, students will undertake taught modules in Social Security Law and Policy, Employment Law, Tribunal Representation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Student will also begin clinical work placement with the Legal Support Project within the Law Centre (NI) in the area of Social Security and induction to the Ulster Law Clinic. In Semester 2 & 3, Students will be based at the Ulster Law Clinic and/or clinical work placement with the Legal Support Project for the Clinical Legal Practice module where they will provide advice and representation to users of the Law Clinic. Students will also undertake the taught module Housing Law and attend classes in the Dissertation module.
Student clinicans will have placement as volunteers with our placement partner at the pro-bono Legal Support Project at Law Centre (NI). Students will undertake training and will providing specialist legal advice and representation on social security cases.
Students can also engage in placement through collaboration with the Legal Support Officer at Citizens Advice Regional Office. Students would focus on providing support in Social Security Commissioner’s cases.
Students will undertake employment law cases through the Ulster Law Clinic.
The Clinic staff have recieved recognition through a variety of awards. The Course Team received the Distinguished Team Teaching Award in December 2014 from Ulster University, as well as Learning and Teaching Awards 2014 Course/School Team of the Year in the UUSU awards. Dr Eugene McNamee was the recipient of the US-UK Fulbright Public Sector Award 2014 - Scholar at Fordham Law School, NYC, 2015. Dr Esther McGuinness was runner up in the highly prestigious Law Teacher of the Year Award OUP.
Clinic staff continue to engage in leading research and justice innovations related to practical implications of, and solutions to, access to justice problems. The Clinic was awarded funding by the Legal Education Foundation to analyse the role of university law clinics in the UK in delivering access to justice. Dr Gráinne McKeever received funding from the British Academy/Leverhulme to understand how court litigants participate in court hearings. The Nuffield Foundation has awarded Dr Gráinne McKeever and Dr John McCord, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, to conduct a human rights analysis of the impact of litigants in person (LIPs) on the Northern Ireland court system. Ciaran White has engaged in research to review the access to justice barriers arising for deaf clients attending consultations with private solicitors in Northern Ireland.
You will develop skills highly relevant to legal practice, and to policy, research and advocacy roles in the voluntary, public and private sectors in the UK, Ireland and beyond. Successful completion may also open up a range of further study and research options.
The LLM A2J allows you to develop the analytical skills prized by employers in a wide range of career pathways within the United Kingdom, Ireland and internationally. Students obtain experience in all aspects of legal practice, from client-handling and case-related research, to advocacy and representation, as well as developing and managing a working Law Clinic. The degree is relevant to legal practice and policy, and to research and advocacy roles in the voluntary, public and private sectors. Successful completion also opens up a range of further study and research options.
We are proud to state that all our graduates to date have have transitioned into employment, practice or further academic study. The connections created by the referral network have generated opportunities for our graduates in the form of trainee solicitor positions with one of the members of our referral network, Sullivans Law, for example. Graduates have also been employed as research interns in the Law Society of Northern Ireland for the last two years. Other students have taken up funded PhDs examining issues and concepts arising from their LLM studies, and continued working across the legal advice field.