Norfolk Community Law Service Celebrates National Pro Bono Week

Between 6th-10th November Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) will be marking the 16th annual National Pro Bono Week. The Week is sponsored by the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).

Over the years we have seen an increasing need for pro bono services and Legal Professional make a collective, voluntary contribution of free legal help that is unparalleled in any other professions. National Pro Bono Week is hled to recognise the contribution these Legal Professionals make, free of charge, to many people and organisations in acute need. It celebrates the pro-bono legal work which is carried out by solictors, barristers and chartered legal executives through a series of events throughout the week. 

Legal professionals make a collective, voluntary contribution of free legal help that is unparalleled in any other profession. National Pro Bono Week is held to recognise the contribution these Legal Professionals make, free-of-charge, to many people and organisations in acute need. It celebrates the pro bono legal work which is carried out by solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives through a series of events throughout the week

Legal professionals make a collective, voluntary contribution of free legal help that is unparalleled in any other profession. National Pro Bono Week is held to recognise the contribution these Legal Professionals make, free-of-charge, to many people and organisations in acute need. It celebrates the pro bono legal work which is carried out by solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives through a series of events throughout the week.

NCLS is a registered charity which is dedicated to providing access to justice and equality in Norfolk. Our flagship service is our drop in Legal Advice Service in Norwich on Tuesdays and Fridays which provides free, independent legal advice on family and employment as well as general matters. We also offer a free weekly session giving advice on Domestic Abuse. We also run similar services in Cromer and Great Yarmouth. All the advice is given by local solicitors on a pro bono basis and we could not provide the service without their generous contribution. Between these 4 services we were able to help 1,835 clients in 2016/17. In addition to the 65 solicitors giving their time for free we have 50 UEA Law students and 20 Community volunteers on whom we increasingly rely to support the delivery of all our services.

In recognition of their contribution over many years our volunteer solicitors won the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession’ at the 2016 Norfolk & Norwich Law Society Excellence Awards. Judi Lincoln, NCLS’s Advice & Volunteer Manager, expressed how fortunate Norfolk is to have solicitors who are willing to work in this way ‘We are very lucky in Norfolk to have so many Legal Professionals giving their time for free via Norfolk Community Law Service to help people have access to justice. National Pro Bono Week is a way of celebrating the work that goes on all year round thanks to all those who support us’. Judi added that ‘it is NCLS’s aim to have all Norfolk Law firms represented on our volunteer rota and we would welcome new applicants to assist in the work we do’. Clients who have used the service have also give excellent feedback – ‘‘it’s a godsend this service’. ‘Thanks very much for all your help. I feel much more able to resolve my issue’.

Pro bono legal services are not, nor can they ever be, a substitute for a properly funded system of legal aid. However, for those who are not eligible for the decreasing public funding system and are unable to pay for legal assistance, free advice and representation provided by volunteer Legal Professionals is often the only means of obtaining access to justice. One of the solicitors noted ‘‘NCLS provides much needed services to those who would otherwise be left with no other way of receiving legal advice. It is clearly a challenge for NCLS to sustain services in the light of increasing demand and so it is a pleasure to volunteer at NCLS and assist those seeking legal advice’.

25th May 2017

NCLS Celebrates Return of UEA Law Student Volunteer as qualified Solicitor

Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) is celebrating the success of its volunteering scheme as former volunteer and UEA Law student Naomi Newell returns as a qualified solicitor to give legal advice for free.

Judi Lincoln, NCLS Advice & Volunteer Manager, said ‘We are delighted that Naomi’s volunteering experience with NCLS has contributed to her successful qualification as a solicitor and  are very pleased to welcome her back to advise the increasing numbers of clients seeking help.

Naomi, a qualified Dispute Resolution Solicitor with Norwich firm Cozens Hardy Solicitors, volunteered with NCLS throughout her 4 years as a student at UEA.  

Naomi said ‘It is more important now than ever before that the legal profession does its bit for charities that provide much-needed free legal advice to the local community. I was fortunate enough to be involved with the volunteer scheme at NCLS when I was an undergraduate Law student at the UEA and I am thrilled to work for Cozens-Hardy LLP, which also supports NCLS. It was a very proud moment for me to sign my NCLS application form to enter onto the rota as a qualified solicitor after having started my degree in 2010 and I very much look forward to contributing, along with the other solicitors, to helping our local community.

NCLS hopes that Naomi’s application will be the first of a number of student volunteers who will return as successfully qualified solicitors.

 23rd April 2017

Running in Support of Access to Justice

One of our wonderful volunteers, Chris Moore, ran the London Marathon on 23rd April in support of NCLS.

Of his reasons for running in aid of us Chris said "Having access to justice is of high importance at a time when Legal Aid is very difficult to get. I know that NCLS's work is hugely supported by volunteers without who they would not be able to provide the advice and representation that they do. It’s good to know that the money raised will be going to directly support these services rather than being eaten up by high running costs."

 Chris completed the marathon in 3hours and 44minutes, and so far has raised £440 for NCLS. Thank you Chris and well done!

2nd March 2017

NCLS featured in the Solictors Journal

Our CEO, Ros Brown, talks in the Solicitors Journal about the challenges bought about by cuts to Legal Aid and how NCLS is working to fil the gaps left by these cuts. The article also features ISCRE, who provide our Discrimination Advice Service.  

The article can be found here.

10th December 2015

NCLS mentioned in the House of Lords

The work of NCLS in providing free legal advice was mentioned by Lord Howarth of Newport (Lab) in his Motion to take Note of the Cuts to Legal Aid. Whilst highlighting the problems that the cuts are bringing Lord Howarth said 'Organisations such as the Norfolk Community Law Service are fighting back, for example by providing work experience for law students in their free legal advice services. But voluntary and pro bono work is no substitute for legal aid'.

It is great that the hard and valuable work of NCLS and its volunteers is being recognised during the period of change bought on by the transformation of Legal Aid.

A full transript of the Motion can be found here.  

26 February 2015

The Norfolk Community Law Service Welfare Benefits team is delighted to announce that December 2014 saw the Welfare Benefits service reach the impressive £1,000,000 milestone, in terms of income generated for our clients by overturning negative benefit decisions.

Since it was established in October 2012, the Welfare Benefits service has advised 1,082 clients about their social security appeals and has represented 214 clients before the First-tier Tribunal. We have also helped many more clients achieve favourable outcomes without the need to go all the way to a tribunal.

The service has made great use of the innovative partnership arrangement with the University of East Anglia’s Law School, which enables students from the UEA Law Clinic to volunteer for NCLS in various roles. The Welfare Benefits team trains students to represent clients at tribunals, with others trained in an administrative support role to work alongside our paid advisors.

The team is looking forwards to a busy and successful 2015. We are happy to receive referrals from other agencies, via the Norfolk Community Advice Network partnership, and directly from clients for advice regarding their social security appeals.

10 December 2014

NCLS has submitted a response to the Social Security Advisory Committee's consultation regarding the Government's proposal to change the rules relating to repeat claims of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Please click here for more information. Our submission can be downloaded here.  


16 September 2014

Briefing to advice agencies on the Minimum Earnings Threshold (MET) for EEA Nationals

Norfolk Community Law Service has produced a practice note on the Minimum Earnings Threshold for EEA Nationals.

8 July 2014 

LawWorks Pro Bono Awards: NCLS/UEA Partnership wins prestigious national prize

Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) and the University of East Anglia have won the LawWorks Best Partnership in Pro Bono Award in recognition of the contribution of the UEA Law Students to the work of NCLS. The award was presented at a ceremony at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln's Inn Fields last night.  

The partnership between NCLS and UEA, which has been operating for many years but was consolidated into a formal partnership agreement in 2012, has been hugely successful. Without the commitment and hard work of all the students we would not have been able to develop our service provision to anything like its current level nor to help the ever increasing number of clients we do – in the financial year 2013/14 we helped 2,108 clients, a 23.3% increase on the previous year.

The students provide support for all NCLS services and of particular note is the work of the Student Advocacy Team who provide representation for clients at welfare benefits tribunals enabling them to access benefits they are entitled to. There is a lot of evidence to show that a client has a much greater chance of success if they are represented at the tribunal hearing. Since this service was established about 18 months ago, the Team has represented over 160 clients, securing over £500,000 of benefit payments.   

A big thanks and congratulations go to all the UEA law students who have been involved in developing the partnership over the last few years - their contribution and commitment to the work of NCLS has been outstanding.

2 April 2014

NCLS's Advocacy Team were proud to receive the runner-up Best Team Contribution prize at the Attorney-General Pro Bono Student Awards last night. The team was represented at the ceremony, hosted in the House of Commons, by Sam Willis, Abby Powell and Joe Ferris, who received their certificate on behalf of the team from the Attorney-General, Dominic Grieve QC MP.

24 March 2014

NCLS are recruiting new volunteers from UEA Law School. Prospective applicants can now download the induction packthe timescale for applications and the application form. ** Please note that the application period has now closed **

7 January 2014

NCLS has submitted a response to the independent review of Job Seeker's Allowance sanctions. This is being conducted by Matthew Oakley on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions: please click here for more information. This can be downloaded here.  


Big Lottery Fund Norwich City Council Broadland Communities Advice Quality Standard
Money Advice Service South Norfolk Norwich Consolidated Charities University of East Anglia