External funding awarded for The Centre for Child and Family Law and Policy & the “Domestic Abuse and Legal Aid – Pilot Project”

Two lawyers walking

The Centre for Child and Family Law and Policy has been awarded £2000 from the Clark Foundation for Legal Education, in order to offer our students mini-internships in the field of Family Law during the academic year 2023-24 (the Centre was successful in a similar application in 2021-22). These internships will provide valuable educational and vocational experience; promote good citizenship and civic responsibility and help LLB students to build employability skills and profit from professional networking opportunities. They are primarily aimed at Year 3 and 4 students.

The roles include the following: (i) research on areas of law and practice concerning children and adults in their private and family life – to include family law, child protection law, health, education, and the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child in Scotland and (ii) contribution towards the organisation and delivery of research-based academic, CPD and public-facing events in these areas of law, to which  Scottish academics, lawyers, third sector workers and key judicial and government stakeholders will be invited to participate.

We will advertise 6 paid internships each semester over the academic year, each part-time, lasting for approximately 4 weeks. We will offer some of these within Trimester 2, and others post the Trimester 2 exams to avoid over-burdening the students.

Rob Clucas, Associate Professor of Law, and Director for the Centre of Child and Family Law and Policy at Edinburgh Napier University, comments, “We are very grateful to the Clark Centre for Legal Education for funding to support our students to develop research and employability skills outside the standard Law curriculum, and in an area that contributes to the Centre for Child and Family Law and Policy. Previous interns have found the experience extremely valuable, and we look forward to working with the new interns.”

Domestic Abuse and Legal Aid – Pilot Project

Edinburgh Napier University Professor and Head of Law, Richard Whitecross has been awarded £3300 under the RSE Small Research Grant.

Research on domestic abuse and child contact cases in Scotland highlights ongoing concerns about the difficulty of challenging contact applications by abusive partners (McKay 2018). This is recognised by the Scottish Government (2019a, 2019b). One area that is under-researched is access to civil legal aid for mothers in contact cases.

This pilot project will investigate the availability of civil legal aid in contact cases involving domestic abuse and the barriers to accessing it. Some actions that are planned to be completed in this research are:

  • To review current Scottish civil legal aid guidance, Scottish Legal Aid statistics, and Scottish Government civil justice data,
  • To arrange and conduct interviews with the Scottish Legal Aid Board, Scottish Government policy leads, Scottish Women’s Right Centre, Scottish Women’s Aid, and family law practitioners.
  • To prepare a series of policy briefings, professional journal articles, and academic papers and presentations.

The pilot will focus on interviews in Edinburgh with the aim, subject to the outcome of the research, of preparing a larger funding application for a Scotland-wide study.


Mackay, K. (2018). The approach in Scotland to child contact disputes involving allegations of domestic abuse, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 40(4), 477-495.

Scottish Government (2019a). Review of Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and creation of a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy: Analysis of Consultation Responses: Final Report. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

Scottish Government. (2019b). Family Justice Modernisation Strategy. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

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