My time as a law student volunteer at the Scottish Child Law Centre was an incredibly rewarding, enlightening and enjoyable experience. The work environment is perfectly balanced between being professional but also welcoming and friendly, where you stand to learn a great deal while simultaneously enjoying a cup of tea and some biscuits with knowledgeable and amicable colleagues.
The work itself is interesting and important, and I spent much of my time talking to people seeking advice on the phone as well as working with solicitors on various projects. As a result, I got to work on a variety of tasks, broadening my knowledge and skills as I helped with research, administrative duties and the creation of teaching materials for events and workshops.
But just as important as my interest in the work, I can’t stress enough what a pleasure it is to work with the staff and volunteers at the SCLC. They truly respect their volunteers and there were countless times when I was touched by their generosity and thoughtfulness. Whether it was someone bringing in chocolates or getting a card from them when I passed my driving test, I always felt valued and a part of the team.
I consider my time spent at the Centre invaluable and in my mind I think it would be difficult to find more welcoming environment than the one fostered by the staff and volunteers at the SCLC.
Respect and thanks,
Patrick O’Sullivan, University of Edinburgh
During my month with SCLC, I experienced much more than I thought I would: I was trusted with key responsibilities and given tasks in a way that not only made me feel like I was truly a part of the team but also helped me learn so much more about the processes of a legal centre and the reality of child and family law in Scotland today.
As a first legal internship, it was a relaxed and extremely friendly environment. It was hard to know what to expect before arriving at the Centre, but within a few days, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly lucky to be doing an internship with the SCLC. The solicitors, admin staff and other volunteers were a joy to work for and with: I believe I not only gained key legal experience during my time here but made genuine friends in the process.
Some of the things I did for the Centre during my internship included:
- A research project on “After Care”
- Research on Children’s Mental Health in Scotland and finding charities and organisations for SCLC to potentially work with in future
- Sorting through and updating website query emails
- Answering calls and logging them in the system
- Taking down messages from the answering machine and calling people back for further details when needed
- Occasionally taking administrative calls e.g. taking orders for publications, providing info on training days etc.
- Translating publications into French including correcting and adding to translations already on the website
- Assisting a solicitor during call backs: typing up conversation and writing down developments of the case
- Visiting the Scottish parliament
- Helping teach new volunteers how to log and answer calls
- Helped edit and formulate volunteer welcome/help sheets containing instructions on daily volunteer duties and SCLC vocabulary
- Getting to know the inner workings of a law centre and improving my admin skills e.g. how to use and create Excel spreadsheets, how to use an Access system, how to keep information from clients processed efficiently and confidentially.
I feel like I have come out the other end of this internship with many more skills and experiences than I could have hoped for and with a greater zeal for family/child law than I had at the start. Although at times the experience felt like a baptism of fire (answering calls straight away, learning how to cope with very angry/irate or upset callers etc.) if I could do it all again or stay on, I would!
Thank you to everyone at SCLC
Molly Duncan, Edinburgh University
I have really enjoyed my work placement here at the Scottish Child Law Centre. All the staff and volunteers are friendly and welcoming, making it a great working environment. Though I’ve only been here for a short time it is clear that the Centre helps many people in need of legal advice despite it being a small organisation. I have learned many things and developed my IT skills further and I am very keen to come back for another placement! I highly recommend the SCLC for anyone looking to volunteer.
Boroughmuir High School
Internship Period at SCLC 01/03/16 – 01/06/16
Key things done at SCLC
I was taking and logging the phone calls, translating leaflets and doing legal research on a daily basis. I was responsible for starting the Court watching project, that means I had to figure out how the system should work, create the framework of the project, write guidelines for the future volunteers etc. I also read and summarized a couple of judgments. I participated at the Roundtable Discussion on Family Group Conferencing and assisted in its preparation. I attended a Parliament debate, I observed three Children’s Hearings and a few Sheriff Court and High Court trials.
This internship was incredible, I learned from you, both professionally and personally, so much and I am really grateful about that. I truly admire your work and I feel very lucky that I could be part of your team for 3 months.
I have learned a lot about the social responsibility of a charity and what an important role the civil sphere could play in handling social problems. It was really interesting to see how a charity works and how efficient the whole system is. Pursuing the same aim, everybody fulfills their own role and contributes to the success in their own way. You really feel that you are doing something useful and it is entirely appreciated what you are doing.
Through the phone calls and by using English as working language my language skills have improved a lot and I have become much more confident as far as the communication is concerned. On the other hand, I also benefited a lot from learning how to speak about sensitive issues, how to communicate with distressed callers and how to show empathy while trying to talk about legal matters. I have learned a lot about the Scottish family and child law through dealing with the different cases, doing research, listening to the solicitors or helping them to type during the phone calls (I enjoyed it so much!!). The opportunity to observe trials and Children’s Hearings provided a further help to understand how the Scottish legal system works. I really appreciated that you offered us these kind of programmes besides the office work almost every week, and that we also got varied tasks in the office so we were never bored. I also benefited a lot from working on the projects both separately and in a team and I enjoyed being responsible for the Court Project and read judgments.
Last but not least, my furniture moving, leaflet counting and biscuit eating skills have significantly improved during my stay and I don’t think I will ever find such an amazing workplace where everybody cares about everybody so much, everybody is so nice and helpful, where you enjoy every single day and from where you always go home with a huge smile on your face.
Hi, we are Marcel and Matthias from the University of Muenster in Germany. We stayed at the Scottish Child Law Centre for about three weeks and had the opportunity to see a lot of different things there.
Our main task was to take the incoming calls and add them and the callers’ details to the database so that the solicitors would be able to call them back. At first it was quite the challenge to take to phone for the first time, but after a while you get used to it and it really is fun; so be brave and take your first call! Sometimes we got the opportunity to sit in with Briony, one of the solicitors, and listen to her calling people back. We would type her advice while she was talking to the callers on the phone, which allowed us to get an insight into Scottish Law.
Lena organized a guide through the Scottish Parliament one day where we got to know a lot about the Scottish Parliament and saw some places you would not be able to see regularly. This came in quite handy as we were lucky to stay at the SCLC right at the time of the Roundtable Discussion on Family Group Conferencing. The staff really put a lot of work in this event to get some good speakers and an interesting outline to inform other solicitors and others that are working with children on Family Group Conferencing, a relatively new and not that well known way of solving problems in families.
We also were able to visit one of the SCLC’s training courses on child protection which gave us an idea how child protection is working in Scotland and what difficulties might arise.
The people working at the SCLC are incredibly nice and welcoming. It was a really good place to work at as you could ask them for anything, not just work-related; if you need any advice regarding sights you have to see in Edinburgh or where to get the best Scottish food, you can always ask them and they will help you!
We learned the SCLC to be an exceptional organization providing free legal advice to children and their families, something that should not only be promoted in Scotland.
We really loved staying at the SCLC and would recommend it to anyone who is searching for an internship or simply wants to volunteer in his free time.
Marcel and Matthias, University of Muenster
30 March 2016
Well, today is officially my last day at the Scottish Child Law Centre. I must admit, when I started back in June, I was quite nervous since I hadn’t worked previously in a legal environment. However, everyone here was extremely friendly and welcoming. It was great working with the solicitors while picking up useful trainee tips and meeting volunteers from all over Europe and learning about their legal systems. Though I will be moving south next week, the Scottish Child Law Centre will be a highlight of my time in Edinburgh and has been the highlight of my week every time I come in. The only thing I regret is not finding it until after I graduated as I would have liked to volunteer throughout university as opposed to just at the end.
When I was younger, my family was heavily involved in volunteering, so I grew up working for charities or Churches. This was the first time that I really thought about where I wanted to volunteer before applying. It was really rewarding to combine my passion for law with that of helping people.
For anyone in Edinburgh with a couple spare hours a week, I would highly recommend volunteering at the Scottish Child Law Centre.
10 September 2014
Hello, my name is Max, and I am a recent graduate of Japanese from the University of Edinburgh. Last year I wrote my dissertation about constitutional law in Japan. Currently, I am looking forward to starting the GDL in September. But in the meantime, I wanted to get some practical legal experience before embarking on my chosen profession. Since I was working in Edinburgh over the summer, my dissertation supervisor recommended I research places to volunteer in my spare time.
And so began my time volunteering for the Scottish Child Law Centre once a week. Over the last couple months, I have met some great people, volunteers from all over Europe, and gained more practical knowledge than I was originally expecting.
I was pushed into the forefront in my second week as I was the only volunteer at the Centre for a number of weeks (at least on Mondays). However, a couple weeks ago, two more volunteers joined me, and today there are six people in the Centre’s library –the most I’ve seen yet!
Over the last couple of months, I have been involved in various projects. At one point, I even used my Japanese knowledge to translate a leaflet. I did not realise how many little pieces of knowledge I had picked up until I started an introductory online law course for my university. My main points of knowledge came from a database I have been helping update. I have learned what various terms in child and family law mean, and I have gained the experience necessary to research legal material online and from the library.
I’m only here for another few weeks, but there are still many things which I am looking forward to, including but not limited to meeting Ben Adler who has been cycling from Devon to aid SCLC.
All-in-all volunteering at the SCLC has been an even better experience than I was anticipating. The SCLC was a great, rewarding, and interesting way to spend my extra time this summer.
18 August 2014