Volunteer

DLS are currently recruiting volunteers. If you think you have relevant skills then please get in touch with us and we will contact you if something becomes available. Please find below further details for current opportunities:-

Triage Volunteer

The Triage Service takes all incoming calls from disabled people who are looking for advice. Volunteers in this team provide a vital and important function, and as such it is the main area in which DLS takes in volunteers.

There will also be the opportunity to assist where possible with cases and dealing with clients.

As a busy legal practice, Volunteers are always welcome and will work as part of a small team dealing with a range of administrative, office management, accounting and events related tasks.

Volunteers Needed for Advice on Dealing with Goods and Services Discrimination

Whilst we are able to provide factsheets in the area of Goods and Services Discrimination, our current resources do not enable us to provide a helpline.  We would like to do so and are interested in recruiting volunteers to help us.  Are you an experienced lawyer looking for a new challenge and willing to learn a new area of law?  Or perhaps you are already expert in this area and willing to help us out?  If so, please be in touch with us.  We would like to offer a helpline on one or two days a week and any support that you can provide in achieving this aim will be greatly appreciated.

Information for Prospective Volunteers

General information

Volunteers play a crucial role within Disability Law Service and their involvement in our work is highly valued by all DLS staff. In return we hope that we give our volunteers valuable experience of working in a busy legal environment.

What would I get out of the experience?

Apart from being part of the vibrant DLS family, our volunteers also have the opportunity to join in internal and external events and meetings with DLS staff, and can attend internal training sessions.

If volunteers have any views or ideas about the work we do or how we do it we are more than happy to listen to their ideas and implement any we feel would enable us to help disabled people even better than we do at present.

All volunteers are entitled to claim reasonable travel costs over and above what they would usually spend on travel.

How do I get involved?

If you are interested and think you have relevant skills please email us at advice@dls.org.uk and we will send you a copy of the relevant application form.

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Volunteer Profiles

Alex Hills

Background: Hello! I was born and schooled in Kent and Sussex. After school I went to the University of Exeter where I read Philosophy. I am currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Law at the University of Law whilst living in London. I hope to qualify as a private client solicitor in the future.

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

I was originally put in touch with DLS through the Pro Bono Community, an organisation that trains law students. DLS appealed to me as it provided the chance to gain some ‘hands-on’ legal experience whilst at the same time helping those who need it – no doubt a ‘win-win’ opportunity!

What work are you doing for DLS?

I volunteer one day a week where I spend most of the day gateway assessing for social welfare cases. I talk to clients on the phone, discuss their issues and advise them how to solve their problem. Most of my cases involve complaints to a local authority, so I run through the procedure or signpost them to the necessary agencies. I also spend a bit of time organising sponsorship for events and have helped to compile factsheets for our new website.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

My experiences at DLS have really improved my interpersonal skills. By working with a variety of clients, with a variety of disabilities and problems, I’ve developed the ability to effectively communicate with anyone and get to the route of a problem quickly. I think this will really help me in my future legal career.

Paula Poniatowska

Background: (Education, work)

City, University of London, Candidate, GE LLB (International Program)

University of Toronto, H. BA

Majors: Criminology & Law, Ethics & Society 

Communications Officer – Canadian and American Law Society in London (CALS)

GE LLB Student Representative for the Academic Cohort 2016-2017

Pro-Bono Community Placement – Disability Law Service London (DLS)

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

The decision to apply to Disability Law Service (DLS) for my pro-bono community placement was highly influenced due to my interest in Employment and Community Care Law. This charity sparked my interest for the reason that it provided free legal advice to disabled people, helping those that are marginalized and stigmatized and most in need. I am a personal believer in fostering community solidarity and initiatives that help demystify the law and provide individuals with the appropriate resources and legal information to fight for there legal rights.

What work are you doing for DLS?

I am part of the volunteer student network that partakes in triage calls for the charity. Calling back clients, providing free legal advice and information about Community Care Law. The role is centred on being able to talk to clients and figure out what the legal issues are and what options are available to the client. Most of the time student volunteers need to partake in legal research or guidance from an onsite paralegal or solicitor.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

Volunteering at DLS has provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge in the following areas of UK law: Employment, Community Care, and Discrimination. This has given me an international perspective on both common law systems: the Canadian and English Legal System. Furthermore, it has been a great experience in terms of learning how to communicate with all sorts of clients under stressful situations and being able to mediate the conversations into fruitful results. It is a rewarding feeling when you spend 30 minutes on the phone with a client and are able to provide helpful advice, information, and support leaving the client feeling greatly appreciative and hopeful. This experience has helped me visualize what it would look like from a practical setting working as a lawyer and having to engage with clients on a day-to-day basis. I would certainly encourage young aspiring lawyers to volunteer; you are able to apply your theoretical knowledge in a real professional practical setting. The skills I learnt at DLS such as: mediation, problem solving, time management and legal research are skills that I will be able to take with me throughout my legal career. Being apart of the DLS team has been a rewarding and positive experience! Charities like DLS are an integral part of society, which promote community solidarity!

Geoff Temme

Geoff Temme

Background: (Education, work)

I’m 45 years old.  In my late thirties I took a change of direction in my career and began studying law and legal practice.  I worked in a small government agency and was lucky enough to obtain a transfer into its legal team.  I have a master’s degree in academic law and I have passed the Legal Practice Course. I’m close to completing qualification as a Chartered Legal Executive.  

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

I believe in social justice and equality of opportunity.  Volunteering at DLS gives me the opportunity to help people tackle disadvantage in those respects.

What work are you doing for DLS?

I’m working in social care.  I help people to access their rights to social care support and to find solutions when care support system goes wrong.

I may shortly be transferring into the employment law team.  DLS offer a free legal representation service on employment law cases. DLS are willing to let me casework in that team to help me complete my qualification as a Chartered Legal Executive.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

Volunteering at DLS has helped improve my 1-2-1 communication and client skills.  Our telephone enquirers can be parents seeking help with their children’s care needs, or adults seeking help with their parent’s care needs, or people seeking help with their own care needs.  And because it means so much to people (the quality of life of their children and parents) – people feel under pressure to make a difference and feel frustrated when things go wrong.  Volunteering at DLS has improved my listening skills, my explaining skills and my ability to relate generally.

Kendall Ross

Background: (Education, work) Graduate Student at the University of Westminster studying Media, Campaigning and Social Change

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?: My course leader learned of this volunteer opportunity and passed it along to me. After researching DLS I believed that the work they are doing was so important and impactful that I couldn’t wait to volunteer my time and skills!

What work are you doing for DLS?: I helped DLS set up a social media strategy to enhance their online presence. In addition ,I created visual content for them such as infographics, images, and video.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?: DLS gave me a wonderful opportunity to put into action things I was learning in my coursework. Working on this project helped me to improve and refine my communication and graphics skills.

Ben Lattimore

Ben Lattimore

Background: (Education, work)

Freelance Web Developer, BA Persian (SOAS | University of London)

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

Having two autistic brothers, and being involved in supporting them for as long as I can remember, gives me a deep personal interest in organisations like DLS.

I hope to transition from web development to law in the next 5 years and DLS seemed like a great way to utilise my current skills in a legal environment that fits so well with my personal interests.

What work are you doing for DLS?

My focus has been on boosting the social media presence of DLS, and maximising social media’s unique ability to provide more people with access to the services that DLS provide.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

Working with DLS, I have been able to explore the breadth of what social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide – especially making use of analytics to guide future content creation.

Beyond just my hard skills, my time with DLS has fully opened my eyes to both the large and small barriers that restrict access, not only to justice but other vital services, to people with disabilities.

Samson Dawodu

Samson Dawodu

Background: (Education, work)

Birkbeck College, University of London (2013-2016)

Bachelor of Laws (LLB).

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

The reason I chose DLS was because of the reputation of the charity and the opportunity to get some legal experience. DLS has a fantastic reputation for providing excellent legal advice to those in greatest of need. I wanted to be a part of that service – and get the chance to learn some fantastic skills from DLS’ excellent team!

What work are you doing for DLS?

I have been fortunate to enough to have participated on many projects. Whether it has been providing advice over the telephone or helping to construct a contract, my time has been well spent. What currently occupies my time is assisting DLS’ manager of corporate partnerships in securing further funding, which has been fantastic for gaining business experience.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

The experience has been very helpful for many reasons. Firstly, my communication skills have improved greatly as you are forced to communicate with a wide-range of people. Often, simple and clear language is the best method no matter the audience. Secondly, the approach I take to tasks has drastically improved. For example, I have learned excellent tips for ensuring whatever your task, whether creating contracts or writing a piece of research, that you are producing something which can take care of the best interests for those whom it is for. All in all, my time at DLS so far has been very beneficial for my professional development. I have had the opportunity to learn from a great team. The fact that DLS is a charity means that the sort of knowledge and skills which it possesses are unique in the legal world. I believe that uniqueness has given me distinctive skills that I can take with me throughout my career.

Since May 2017, we are happy and excited to announce that Samson has joined the Disability Law Service team as a part-time Legal Assistant, working in both corporate partnerships and the social care department.

Jonathan Coote

Jonathan Coote

Background: (Education, work)

After studying Music, I worked in the courts for the Probation Service and lived in Spain before beginning to study law.

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

I began volunteering at DLS after training with Pro Bono Community. I particularly wanted to volunteer here after seeing family members going through the process of obtaining Community Care funding.

What work are you doing for DLS?

After discussing my background and interests with the organisation prior to joining, I was given a role assisting the MS Legal Officer. My role is as the first point of contact between clients referred by the MS Society and DLS. The issues faced by clients range from Employment disputes to securing or maintaining access to Benefits and Community Care. Before providing legal advice, an important part of my role is determining whether the client needs a different kind of support, legal or otherwise.

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

The role has helped me to develop a variety of skills ranging from developing professional skills compiling reports for the MS Society through to legal skills like conducting legal research, and communicating directly with clients. Taking on responsibility and speaking to clients from day one have been the highlights of volunteering at DLS.

Emily Cukalevski

Emily Cukalevski

Background: (Education, work):

Australian lawyer, working in the litigation department at Herbert Smith Freehills (3-4 years PQE)

Why did you choose to apply to volunteer at DLS?

Due to my interest in disability law / disability services; my sister is autistic so I have a first-hand understanding of the importance of these services.

DLS itself is the leading legal clinic for people with disabilities in the UK. As such I wished to volunteer with DLS so I could use my skills in the area of law I care most about.

What work are you doing for DLS?

Previous corporate engagement and business development work with David Laurence

How do you think the experience has helped to improve your skills?

It has helped my drafting, corporate research and time management skills. I also hope to gain expertise in employment law issues affecting people with disabilities.

What do our current volunteers say about DLS?

“Volunteering at DLS has been a worthwhile experience for me as I have been able to improve my skill set. Not only am I advising callers on a variety of issues but I am doing so in a supportive and friendly team of professional legal advisors. Each call is different to the last which enables contact with a diverse range of callers and also ensures that there is never a dull moment in the office. Volunteering with Disability Law Service has been great for learning more about the legal sector and I hope to further develop in my role.”

Nazma

“Volunteering at the DLS has not only been a professionally rewarding experience, but a personal one as well. During my time at the charity, I have been able to contribute to the quality legal advice and services that the DLS provides. This has enriched my understanding of the true effects that the law can have for those in greatest of need and why charities such as the DLS are so important. I would recommend the experience to not only budding lawyers, but any professional seeking to improve the lives of an often ignored class of persons.”

Samson Dawodu

“Volunteering at DLS has been a very uplifting experience. I have learnt many new skills and have participated in various tasks whilst working with the team. For instance, I have been given the opportunity to learn the different laws and regulations concerning healthcare. I have also created and re-edited fact sheets for DLS, as well as answering phone calls regarding community care. During this process, I have been able to enhance my communication skills, admin skills as well as independent research. The team are great and very friendly, and are more than happy to help when I have questions, which makes coming into work very comfortable and easing. Volunteering at DLS is definitely something I would recommend to other individuals.”

Rona Abazi

“My volunteering at DLS has focused on employment cases, and I have found this very rewarding. I leave the DLS office feeling like my work has helped someone vulnerable and that an extremely stressful situation has been made that bit easier for them.”

Daniel