Shelter – Court Desk Volunteers

About the project

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through their advice, support and legal services.

Hertfordshire Law Clinic and Shelter launched their Court Desk Volunteer Scheme in December 2019.

The Scheme involves student volunteers attending Watford and Hertford County Court in pairs on a weekly basis to support the Duty Solicitor as she helps vulnerable people facing homelessness as a result of housing repossession or mortgage arrears.

Role of student volunteers

The student volunteers assist the duty solicitor with triaging the cases by managing the queue of waiting clients, interviewing clients to find out basic essential information, recording client details and helping with the completion of legal aid paperwork. They also assist clients with their paperwork and facilitate communication between the clients and the duty solicitor, usher and others in court.

The students also have the opportunity to observe negotiations and court hearings. As a result of the help provided by students, the Court Duty solicitor has been able to increase the number of people she can assist.

How do I volunteer?

If you are a current student, please check the pro bono pages on your programme site on Canvas.

If you’re a prospective student and want to learn more, you can contact us as soon as you have accepted your offer by emailing:

We saw 11 clients, 9 of them all in the morning session. I know for sure that all of the clients got better outcomes with us being there, but also that the help of the students was critical to the smooth running of the session - many of the clients would have got frustrated waiting,

Shelter Duty Solicitor

In relation to the court sitting on 16 December 2019

Working one-on-one with the solicitor and clients on real-life cases really helped me understand what work goes into it. Especially as most of these cases are final eviction hearings, you get to see the solicitor trying everything in her power to either extend or limit the possibility of an individual leaving court homeless. We saw

Feedback from a Shelter student