Now in their 17th year, the awards celebrate the best pro bono activities undertaken by law students and law schools. They incorporate a presentation to the winners of Advocate and LawWorks Law School Challenge. Supported by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP, the awards were presented by Lord Stewart of Dirleton KC, Advocate General for Scotland, at a ceremony held in the House of Commons on Thursday 27th April.
The Attorney General, the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP said:
“I would like to say a huge congratulations to all the winners and nominees of this year’s awards, organised by LawWorks.
I am pleased to see that so many rising legal stars have been recognised tonight. As you embark on your legal careers, I encourage you to continue your excellent pro bono work. Providing your services for free is vitally important to upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that everyone has equal access to legal advice.”
Alasdair Douglas, Chair of LawWorks said:
“LawWorks once again received an impressive number of nominations showcasing the breadth of pro bono undertaken by law schools and students across the UK, all those nominated or shortlisted deserve recognition and appreciation for their work.
We were delighted to be able to hold the awards event at the House of Commons and are grateful for the Attorney General’s support. I would like to extend my thanks to our judges, who had the daunting if fulfilling task of selecting the winners - congratulations to all of this year’s winners of the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards”
James Harper, Director, Global Legal for LexisNexis said:
“Advancing the Rule of Law is at the heart of LexisNexis’s global business and strategy, whether through our tools and products or our own charitable work. It is therefore a privilege to support these awards and spot light the amazing efforts made by the winners and all those nominated. They act as a safety net to ensure fewer people are left behind and can access their legal rights and remedies and, without them, the Rule of Law would be significantly weaker. Our sincere thanks go to all the nominees for this year’s Student Pro Bono Awards and a special congratulations to the winners.”
The winners are:
Best New Pro Bono Activity: City Community Legal Advice Centre, City University of London
The City Community Legal Advice Centre is a new service consolidating a range of existing clinics and outreaches into one unified service, and is an innovative partnership between the centre, community-based providers, lawyers, and law firms. Advising on 8 areas of civil law including family, employment and welfare benefits, they work in partnership with community-based GP and mental health services, focusing on areas where need is greatest. The Centre operates a hybrid model of face-face and online appointments, where student advisers work under supervision and are trained to conduct client interviews, draft full case summaries, and collate documents. In the past 16 months, more than 330 clients have been advised and more than 200 signposted to community-based services.
The University of Chester and Pregnant Then Screwed partnership and University of Suffolk Legal Advice Centre were highly commended by the judges.
Best Contribution by an Individual: Benjamin O'Connell, University of Essex
Inspired by his experience of being made homeless at 17, Ben has shown exceptional commitment to pro bono work. He began volunteering at University of Essex Law Clinic in October 2020, focusing on housing and family law. Over the past year Ben has taken on more cases than any other volunteer, accounting for more than one fifth of the overall caseload! As Deputy Student Director and then Student Director for the clinic, he has also given a voice to the concerns and interests of student volunteers within the clinic, helping to shape it into a “better institution.”
Ben is involved in other projects at the clinic, including relaunching an advice outreach in Jaywick - one of the most deprived areas in England - he also leads the Innocence Project and the Housing and Homelessness Project, which operates in partnership with local charity Beacon House, Ben has been key to expanding this collaboration, visiting weekly. Last summer he undertook to review over 150 casefiles to improve the provision of emergency s188 accommodation to clients in priority need. Beacon House says this project transformed the local authority’s approach, resulting in more street homeless clients being accommodated on an urgent basis.
Daniel Scrase, BPP University and Amy Woodcock, University of Strathclyde were highly commended by the judges.
Best Contribution by a Law School: University of London Refugee Law Clinic
The Refugee Law Clinic at the University of London is a clinical legal education project providing pro bono advice to appeal-rights exhausted asylum seekers in London. The clinic also provides training and practical experience for 50 law students and 40 volunteer lawyers each year.
Established in 2020, the clinic’s main legal focus is on advising and preparing fresh claims for asylum, an area consistently identified as underserviced in the current legal landscape. The clinic takes on a high volume of casework and its current caseload of 45 comprises clients from over 20 countries ranging from 20 to 73 years of age. The clinic actively engages with over a dozen referral partners who have reported that the service makes a significant difference in being able to obtain legal advice for cases where it has been difficult to find support.
The Ulster University Law Clinic, Ulster University were highly commended by the judges.
Best contribution by a Team of Students: The Immigration Project, University of Chester and Eastgate Chambers
Sponsored by the College of Legal Practice
The Immigration Project is a partnership between the University of Chester and Eastgate Chambers (responsible for delivering the Legal Aid contract for Immigration and Asylum cases across North Wales). The five students involved in the Immigration Project this year have made an outstanding contribution to pro bono by assisting 60 refugees to claim Indefinite Leave to Remain and/or Permission to Work since August 2022. The majority of those assisted fled the war in Syria and were offered asylum under the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. The student volunteers are led by a student Project Manager and assist a Legal Aid caseworker in his work with refugee clients. The students’ input into the Immigration Project enables the Legal Aid caseworker to move through his client list much more efficiently, thus ensuring refugee clients are provided with the assistance they need more quickly.
The School Exclusion Project, City University of London and the Liverpool Family Advice Project at University of Liverpool were highly commended by the judges.
The judges for the 2023 Awards were:
- Toby Brown, Chair of National Pro Bono Week and Member of the Bar Council Pro Bono and Social Responsibility Committee;
- Peter Farr, Head of Civil Law Policy, Ministry of Justice;
- James Harper, Director, Global Legal, LexisNexis;
- Olivia Partridge, Content Manager, LawCareers.Net;
- Emma Rehal-Wilde, Senior Pro Bono Associate, Baker & Mackenzie LLP and LawWorks Trustee;
- Lubna Shuja, President, The Law Society of England and Wales;
- Deborah Smith; Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Goldman Sachs and LawWorks Trustee.
The University of Law Bloomsbury campus was announced at the winner of the Law School Challenge, a fundraising initiative to raise funds for LawWorks and Advocate. The University of Huddersfield and University of Sunderland were the runners up.
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 LexisNexis for their sponsorship of the Awards.
You can find out more about all those shortlisted and the winners in the awards programme.
Notes to editors:
- 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: https://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® provides legal, regulatory, and business information and analytics that help customers increase their productivity, improve decision-making, achieve better 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 and now, with the introduction of Lexis+, is leading the future of legal research. LexisNexis Legal & Professional serves customers in more than 150 countries with 11,300 employees worldwide and is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.
- For further information about the Awards contact Peter Jackson, Communications Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07961 522042