The University of Bolton is to open a Legal Advice Centre manned by law students.

It will provide a free service for members of the public and will be based in the university’s Institute of Management (IoM) building in Great Moor Street in the town centre.

The centre will open its doors in September and also offer advice to staff and students from the University of Bolton group.

It is being launched against a backdrop of reduced access to legal advice, which has created a huge gap at a time when more people than ever need legal protection.

Ian Bowden, Lecturer in Law at the university, who is also a practising Solicitor Advocate, is confident the new centre will help to meet that need.

“There are many cases that we know are not being dealt with at the moment and that is where we come in,” he said.

“The aim of the clinic is to offer a valuable service to the people of Bolton, while at the same time providing an important learning experience for students.”

Ian added: “People often need legal advice but don’t know where to turn. This will give them an option and will be a valued service to the local community.”

The centre will provide members of the public with an online portal where they can register their legal enquiry.

Volunteers at the centre will then provide initial advice on how best to deal with the particular problem.

Ian said: “Sometimes, due to the nature of the legal issue, it might be something that can only be resolved by engaging an external solicitor or through local advice service providers.

“The university has been working in partnership with the Bolton legal community to ensure that every enquiry can be appropriately dealt with, either through the centre team or through our external partners.

“Members of the public can be assured that our team will be fully trained in the wide range of skills required of a solicitor.

“All our students’ work is also completed under the supervision of an experienced and qualified team from the School of Law to ensure that the help we can offer will be of the highest standard.”

The centre will also feature a drop-in format to run alongside scheduled appointments.

It will give law students the chance to gain valuable hands-on experience and knowledge, together with ethical skills, under professional supervision.