Now in their 15th year, the awards celebrate the best pro bono activities undertaken by law students and law schools. They incorporate the Access to Justice Foundation award for an educational body or student which has made a significant contribution to promoting access to justice. This year, the awards were presented by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC, at an online ceremony.
The Attorney General, the Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC said:
‘I am thrilled to continue this valuable tradition alongside LawWorks to recognise and award the brilliant contributions to pro bono and public legal education by students across the country. The innovation, drive and spirit shown by all of those involved in the projects shortlisted for an award attests to the high quality of aspiring young lawyers. They have all demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and support for the community, and are a credit to their universities and themselves. I wish everyone involved the very best in their future endeavours, and offer my congratulations to all of the winners.’
Alasdair Douglas, Chair of LawWorks said:
‘LawWorks received a large number of high-calibre nominations and the quality and impact of the projects nominated was hugely impressive and inspiring – all those nominated or shortlisted deserve congratulations and appreciation for their work. The judges had a difficult task – but special congratulations to this year’s winners of the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards.’
James Harper, Legal Director (Global Projects) and Senior Counsel for LexisNexis said:
‘Our business is all about the Rule of Law – it is in every product, tool and solution we provide. And so it is our privilege to continue our long-standing support for those students and law schools working to improve access to justice and advance the Rule of Law. In such a challenging year, it was incredible to see such a range of high quality, innovative and inspiring entries. Our congratulations go to the winners and to all those nominated, with our heartfelt thanks for all they do in delivering vital pro bono work across the country!’
The winners and runners up are:
Best new pro bono activity The Protea Clinic, King's Legal Clinic, King's College London
The Protea Clinic is a collaborative project set up by King’s Legal Clinic, Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre and Hibiscus Initiatives to address the need for high quality legal advice for vulnerable migrant females, including foreign national prisoners; and to help identify and assist victims of modern slavery. Service users come from very complex backgrounds and often experience mental health difficulties, language and cultural barriers, poverty, gender-based abuse, loneliness, homelessness and involvement with the criminal justice system. These multiple disadvantages often mean that their immigration cases are complex and not easily resolved, so the students’ work is extremely challenging.
The runners up are: the Justice Hub Virtual Vacation Scheme and Legal Advice, The University of Manchester. Dads House Legal Clinic were also highly commended.
Best contribution by an individual: Amanda Ignatia, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London
Amanda was the first student to at her law school to volunteer to take on cases remotely and has worked tirelessly on pro bono legal work since then to ensure advice across a wide spectrum of law was still accessible to those in need. She was also the student-volunteer director of the King’s new Human Rights and Environment Legal Clinic, supporting other students and working on cases including for a Welsh community group challenging a planning decision to build over a recreation area. She successfully pitched the chosen theme for the Law Clinics Global Day of Action: ‘Rights of Nature,’ for which she co-organised a series of events.
The runner up was Annabel Pike, University of Essex. Sonia Gandhi, University of Leicester was also highly commended.
Best contribution by a team of students: Cardiff Innocence Project Student Team Leaders, Cardiff University
Cardiff University’s innocence project is the largest and most active in the UK and the only one to have overturned convictions at the Court of Appeal. Student teams have reviewed cases working with pro bono lawyers, and have researched the rights of prisoners to request early release on compassionate grounds. This year, the project has recruited the largest ever student cohort, and have developed new methodologies for assessing cases.
The runners up were the Streetlaw Online Student Team, BPP University Law School Pro Bono Centre. The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic were highly commended.
Best contribution by a Law School: Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre (Nottingham Trent University)
Last academic year, 340 students worked with the Nottingham Law School’s Legal Advice Centre Ltd (‘the Centre’) and secured over £730,000 for their clients across seven different service areas. The Welfare Benefits service secured over £680,000 in benefits for clients despite a 33% reduction in cases experienced due to the impact of the pandemic. Students represented 34 individuals before the Social Security Tribunal and achieved a success rate of 82%. The Centre is committed to improving equality and diversity and in the last academic year, 34% of their student volunteers were from disadvantaged backgrounds; 27% declared a disability and 29% were from ethnic minorities.
The runners up were Ulster University Law Clinic; the University of Hertfordshire were highly commended.
The judges for the 2021 awards were:
- Simon Davis, former President the Law Society of England and Wales;
- Peter Farr, Head of Civil Law Policy, Ministry of Justice;
- James Harper, Executive Sponsor, Rule of Law and CSR for LexisNexis UK & Ireland;
- Joshua Richman, Senior Editor, LawCareers.Net;
- Leanne Targett-Parker, Chair, Bar Council Pro Bono Committee;
- Rohini Teather, Head of Parliamentary Affairs, Legal Aid Practitioners Group
Bangor Law School were also announced as winners of the Access to Justice Foundation award for an educational body or student which has made a significant contribution to promoting access to justice, with a special joint commendation to Cambridge Pro Bono Law Society and Leeds Law School.
LawWorks would like to congratulate all the shortlisted nominees and everyone who submitted nominations. LawWorks would also like to thank the judges for their hard work in drawing up the shortlist from a very impressive list of nominations, and Lexis Nexis for their sponsorship of the Awards.
For further information on the Student Pro Bono Awards, please visit: www.lawworks.org.uk/student-awards
Notes to editors:
- More details on shortlisted nominees are available in our awards programme.
- LawWorks (the Solicitors Pro Bono Group) is a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers and law students with people in need of legal advice, who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay, and with the not for profit organisations that support them and their communities. LawWorks supports a network of independent pro bono advice clinics across England and Wales, and facilitates the provision of free legal advice for smaller charities and not-for-profit organisations. For further information about LawWorks visit: www.lawworks.org.uk
- LawWorks is supported by the Law Society of England and Wales, the independent professional body for solicitors.
- LawWorks are extremely grateful for the sponsorship of the awards by LexisNexis Legal & Professional. LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information and analytics that help customers increase productivity, improve decision-making and outcomes, and advance the rule of law around the world. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 130 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries.
- The Access to Justice Foundation focuses on generating new sources of funding to support the free legal advice sector, and has supported hundreds of charities and projects working to provide free legal advice and assistance. The Foundation also receives funds from pro bono costs orders and donations of dormant client account funds.
- For further information about the Awards contact James Sandbach, Director of Policy and External Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org 07508327606
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