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Law school applies for ABS licence

Nottingham Trent University aims to create first 'teaching law firm'

13 March 2015

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In a move that is thought to be the first of its kind, Nottingham Law School has applied for a licence to operate as an alternative business structure (ABS).

The licence would apply to the law school's newly expanded Legal Advice Centre, which is already set to take on in excess of 180 pro bono cases in 2014/15 in various areas of the law including employment, housing, and business and intellectual property law.

As part of the Legal Services Act 2007, ABS licences were first granted in 2012 to allow law firms to have non-lawyers as partners and enable non-law businesses to enter the legal services market under strictly regulated conditions.

As an ABS, Nottingham Trent University hopes the centre will place the law school in the unique position of allowing students to participate in the work of a 'teaching law firm'.

Jenny Holloway, associate dean of Nottingham Law School, said: 'The creation of an ABS platform for our law centre would represent an exciting new phase of development. The application for ABS status demonstrates the law school's commitment to continued innovation which enhances our students learning experience, and shows Nottingham Trent University's commitment in supporting access to justice in its civic and community role.'

The work of the centre not only includes student work on cases, but also local community outreach projects, Miscarriage of Justice Project, public legal education projects and overseas placements.

Nick Johnson, director of the centre, added: 'An ABS licence will enable us to expand and further develop the excellent work our students already do. Students at all levels of the law school will be able to gain experience of professional practice in the same way that medical students currently do at teaching hospitals. Ultimately, our students will be working in a fully regulated organisation as an integral part of their studies within the law school.'

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