As reported by Thomas Connelly for Legal Cheek, the news that final year law students can gain practical legal experience by acting as McKenzie friends for litigants-in-person is to be welcomed. Sadly, other forms of hands-on learning which give law students a real taste of what being a lawyer or barrister is like, such as mooting competitions, are still in short supply. Participating in this scheme will certainly supplement traditional learning, in which students examine case law and legal textbooks.
It is interesting that students who wish to join the scheme will have to provide their own professional indemnity insurance. This has diversity implications, as it may place limits on those who can afford to get involved. Will cash-strapped university students be able to off-set the cost?
Fraser Matcham, who is in the second year of his LLB, is the brainchild of ‘McKenzie Friends Marketplace’. The site — which has received backing from Westminster University, BPP Law School and two private investors — aims to match up law students wanting to gain hands-on legal experience with members of the public who are unable to afford the services of a fully-qualified lawyer. Taking a 5% commission fee, the site — which officially goes live at the end of the month — charges law students out at a maximum of £25 an hour or £100 for a full day. To be eligible, wannabe lawyers must be in their final year of undergraduate study or above and have to provide their own professional indemnity insurance.