LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2020

LawWorks is pleased to announce the winners of the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2020, kindly sponsored by Lexis Nexis.

LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2020, supported by Lexis Nexis

Supported by the Attorney General, the awards celebrate the best pro bono activities undertaken by law students and law schools and the positive impact on those assisted. The awards incorporate the Access to Justice Foundation award for an educational body or student which has made a significant contribution to promoting access to justice and a presentation to the winners of the Advocate and LawWorks Law School Challenge 2019 – 2020.

The LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards are kindly sponsored by LexisNexis.

A message from Alasdair Douglas, Chair of trustees, LawWorks

A message from the Attorney General, Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP

A message from the James Harper, Executive Sponsor, Rule of Law and CSR for LexisNexis UK & Ireland, on behalf of the judges

“What an honour it is to be involved and humbling to see the dedication, which abounds in the pro bono sector.”

Leanne Targett-Parker, Chair, Bar Council Pro Bono Committee

“Those shortlisted really demonstrated value in their communities and have experienced how the law affects real people and lives away from textbooks and case law’.

Peter Farr, Head of Civil Law Policy, Ministry of Justice

"Congratulations to all of the nominees from me and everyone at LawCareers.Net. You should be incredibly proud of your pro bono contributions, which provide a vital lifeline to vulnerable individuals and communities. Without exception, your work was humbling and awe inspiring to learn about – thank you for what you do."

Joshua Richman, Senior Editor, LawCareers.Net

The awards winners

Best new pro bono activity: Hertfordshire Law Clinic, Hertfordshire Law School

“The solicitor and Future Living encouraged me to put pen to paper and appeal to the CPS and I’m very thankful I did!”

Since it opened in October 2019, the Hertfordshire Law Clinic has been overwhelmed with demand, particularly from individuals on lower incomes seeking free family law advice due to the cuts in legal aid.  Around 30% of family clients have experienced domestic abuse.  115 Hertfordshire Law School students from all course levels have taken part in clinics which also offer free advice to small businesses on intellectual property/commercial law.  It is the only university law clinic where Powers of Attorney are prepared by students under the supervision of a qualified lawyer.

Students are supervised by six members of University of Hertfordshire staff and solicitors from 14 local law firms.  The clinic has also set up a satellite family law service at Future Living Hertford, a local charity for those in recovery from addition and domestic abuse. A second satellite family law service will provide advice to prisoners at HMP The Mount.  In response to the Covid 19 outbreak, the clinic has been moved online and appointments are taking place via Zoom video conferencing.

The runners up are the University of Bristol Law Clinic Inquest Team, University of Bristol Law Clinic

Best contribution by an individual: Sartaz Billing, Hertfordshire Law School

“Sartaz is always committed to the different projects he undertakes and has a lovely warm manner with clients.”

Alongside studying for his Law degree, Sartaz participates in a wide variety of pro bono projects. As a student advisor, Sartaz assists clients through Hertfordshire Law Clinic’s Power of Attorney clinic. He is also a trained advisor with Citizens Advice in Hatfield and St Albans where he provides free legal advice via webchat and over the phone in relation to housing, employment, benefits and consumer rights issues.

Sartaz has made an outstanding contribution to the Law School’s Street Law project, helping to deliver the first workshop on Citizenship for Islington Refugee Forum as part of Refugee Week. Not only is Sartaz an excellent presenter and team player, he is supportive and respectful of his colleagues, and helps to mentor fellow students on the project.  Sartaz also provides support to Shelter’s housing court duty solicitor at Watford and Hertford County Court. In this role, Sartaz helps vulnerable clients and takes the initiative to ensure the smooth running of cases to help the duty solicitor. In addition, Sartaz is always happy to volunteer to promote the Law School at Open Days and to encourage more students to get involved in pro bono opportunities.

The runner up is Jade Hunt, University of Essex.

Best contribution by a law school: BPP University

“As a multi-centre law school, BPP could be forgiven for rolling out a ‘one size fits all’ pro bono service to serve a national student demand.  What stands BPP apart, however, is the fact that its pro bono services are driven entirely by the changing needs of the communities in which it operates.”

With existing advice clinics based in London, Manchester and Leeds, BPP now offers an Enterprise Clinic which provides commercial advice for start-ups and small businesses nationally.  It also has a dedicated Family Law Clinic in Holborn and an Employment Law Telephone Advice Line which operates in all centres.  BPP has tackled accessibility by putting clinics in the community.  Its Clinic in the First-tier (Property) Tribunal provides the only tribunal drop-in service for users experiencing residential property disputes and, in Leeds, its Family Court Advice Service works with Support Through Court to help the most vulnerable clients as they navigate the court process.  Across BPP’s clinics, 505 student volunteers have advised 595 clients in the past 16 months.

Students have also engaged in Public Legal Education through designing and delivering democracy-themed workshops.  BPP also fosters partnerships that support key pro bono services, most particularly with Support Through Court.

The runners up are the School of Law, University of Leeds.

Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre, Nottingham Trent University were also highly commended.

Best contribution by a team of students: Plymouth Law Clinic and Red Cross partnership

“This project is emotionally challenging for all who engage with it and the resilience and perseverance of this group of students has been noteworthy.”

Law students from Plymouth University have made an impressive contribution to the Refugee Family Reunion Law Clinic which is run by the British Red Cross.  Plymouth is a dispersal city for asylum seekers and, as a result, the clinic runs between 20 to 30 asylum cases at any one time. Students work with vulnerable individuals, many of whom are struggling with mental health issues and facing destitution, while being forcibly separated from immediate family members and facing significant obstacles to reunite with them.  Using interpreters, the nine students engage with clients in a kind and respectful manner and dedicate a significant number of hours to progressing refugee family reunion immigration applications under the supervision of Red Cross staff.

Eight students have also collaborated with the British Red Cross through the International Humanitarian Law teaching project in which they research, prepare and deliver lessons using British Red Cross materials to pupils at Devonport High School for Girls, which received very positive feedback from both pupils and teachers.

The runners up are the University of Salford.

Access to Justice Foundation Award: Plymouth Law Clinic

Plymouth Law Clinic participated in a range of events across the South West, including an access to Justice South West conference in collaboration with Public Law Project and Plymouth Citizens Advice. Students have undertaken a variety of fundraising events to raise funds for the Access to Justice Foundation. Students have also developed partnerships organisations such as Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service, the British Red Cross and Plymouth and Devon Race Equality Council.


Judges

Our heartfelt thanks to the judges for the LawWorks and Attorney General Awards 2020:

  • Peter Farr, Head of Civil Law Policy, Ministry of Justice
  • David Greene, Vice President, the Law Society of England and Wales
  • 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

The Access to Justice Foundation Award was judged by:

  • Jeffrey Forrest, Trustee, Access to Justice Foundation

Shortlisted nominations

Congratulations to all the nominees:

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Best new pro bono activity

Birmingham City University Welfare Benefits Clinic, Birmingham City University

“The Birmingham community [are now receiving] help in welfare benefits and representation that has been lacking in the city for some time.”

In September 2019, Birmingham Law School opened a new clinic, in partnership with Birmingham Law Centre to train students to work with clients by offering wide-ranging welfare benefits advice and also by providing representation at Tribunal for claimants wishing to appeal Personal Independence Payments awards. 

Client referrals come from local organisations such as the Lisieux Trust, the Disability Resource Centre in East Birmingham, Our Place at the Sutton Community Hub and Birmingham City Council via its Erdington Customer Services Centre.  Students advise nine clients each day on two days a week, including during the holidays.  While there is other general welfare benefits advice available elsewhere in Birmingham and a great demand for these services, there is little representation offered at tribunal and this clinic helps to meet that need.  At advice level, students have been successful in obtaining arrears for clients and have also had success at the mandatory reconsideration stage too. 

Legal Advice Centre, University of Bolton

“Pointing out the advantages and disadvantages clearly and concisely allowed me to weigh up the best way forward….not much I can say other than a big thank you.  An excellent service.”

The University of Bolton launched its Legal Advice Centre in September 2019 as an innovative solution to the problem of reduced access to legal advice.  Students have been able to assist clients with a diverse range of cases from a human rights claim against the Canadian government and challenging a fraud conviction through to matters involving property, family and employment law. 

The Centre works in conjunction with a number of partners including Citizens Advice, the Bolton Law Society, Mediate UK and other local charity and community groups.  So far, the Centre has assisted 177 clients in the first 17 weeks of operation.   It aims to be a place where individuals can come not only with individual issues but also to obtain education on their legal rights within their community setting.  Client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and even led to one client speaking to local radio about their experience.

University of Bristol Law Clinic Inquest Team, University of Bristol Law Clinic

“This project is pioneering and will make a significant impact in assisting families who wish to hold public bodies to account.”

The Inquest Team at the University of Bristol Law Clinic consists of six students who have launched a service to support those who are unable to access legal representation in the face of an investigation into their loved one’s death. The inquest process is a legal one, held in a court, with submissions often required on detailed points of law. Interested organisations are often legally represented, but the family that has lost a loved one is frequently left without any recourse to legal advice, due to the extremely limited provision of legal aid for inquests. The Inquest Team aims to plug this gap that leaves the majority of bereaved families adrift, unsure and isolated in the face of potentially complex legal proceedings, whilst still grieving.  The team offers a full range of support through the coronial process from advice on the process itself, reviewing statements, suggesting questions for witnesses and even advocating on behalf of clients. This is the only law clinic able to provide a dedicated service supporting bereaved families in this way. 

Hertfordshire Law Clinic, Hertfordshire Law School

“The solicitor and Future Living encouraged me to put pen to paper and appeal to the CPS and I’m very thankful I did!”

Since it opened in October 2019, the Hertfordshire Law Clinic has been overwhelmed with demand, particularly from individuals on lower incomes seeking free family law advice due to the cuts in legal aid.  Around 30% of family clients have experienced domestic abuse.  115 Hertfordshire Law School students from all course levels have taken part in clinics which also offer free advice to small businesses on intellectual property/commercial law.  It is the only university law clinic where Powers of Attorney are prepared by students under the supervision of a qualified lawyer.

Students are supervised by six members of University of Hertfordshire staff and solicitors from 14 local law firms.  The clinic has also set up a satellite family law service at Future Living Hertford, a local charity for those in recovery from addition and domestic abuse. A second satellite family law service will provide advice to prisoners at HMP The Mount.  In response to the Covid 19 outbreak, the clinic has been moved online and appointments are taking place via Zoom video conferencing.

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Best contribution by an individual

Sartaz Billing, Hertfordshire Law School

“Sartaz is always committed to the different projects he undertakes and has a lovely warm manner with clients.”

Alongside studying for his Law degree, Sartaz participates in a wide variety of pro bono projects. As a student advisor, Sartaz assists clients through Hertfordshire Law Clinic’s Power of Attorney clinic. He is also a trained advisor with Citizens Advice in Hatfield and St Albans where he provides free legal advice via webchat and over the phone in relation to housing, employment, benefits and consumer rights issues.

Sartaz has made an outstanding contribution to the Law School’s Street Law project, helping to deliver the first workshop on Citizenship for Islington Refugee Forum as part of Refugee Week. Not only is Sartaz an excellent presenter and team player, he is supportive and respectful of his colleagues, and helps to mentor fellow students on the project.  Sartaz also provides support to Shelter’s housing court duty solicitor at Watford and Hertford County Court. In this role, Sartaz helps vulnerable clients and takes the initiative to ensure the smooth running of cases to help the duty solicitor. In addition, Sartaz is always happy to volunteer to promote the Law School at Open Days and to encourage more students to get involved in pro bono opportunities.

Jade Hunt, University of Essex

“Jade conducts herself in a professional manner and demonstrates a clear passion and desire to help those who are on the fringe of society gain access to legal advice.”

In the three years that Jade has worked at the Essex Law Clinic she has conducted over 26 cases and taken on complex casework. As a Housing Law Student Coordinator, Jade has provided advice to clients in relation to tenancy matters, homelessness challenges and eviction proceedings. As a specialist in this area of law, Jade is the first point of call and a mentor for other caseworkers struggling with complex housing cases.

Jade has also been instrumental in the development of the structure and management of the clinic, taking on the role of ‘firm manager’ responsible for a large group of students and ensuring the smooth running of the clinic in order to provide a professional, efficient and timely service to clients. In partnership with Beacon House, Jade has been the driving force in establishing and helping to run a new homelessness outreach project. The project provides a weekly information and referral session, focussing on housing and family law, for a marginalised group who are not able to access help in other ways.

Genevieve Pilaprat-Douglas, University of York

“Genevieve has demonstrated outstanding commitment to pro bono. She has volunteered a considerable amount of her own time to deliver on projects and has always been reliable and professional in her approach.”

Genevieve has dedicated huge amounts of time to pro bono work through volunteering, supporting a new global initiative for student law clinics, and implementing a new pro bono project at the University of York.  Genevieve led a new collaboration with the Independent Domestic Abuse Services, a charity which supports survivors of domestic violence, and created videos to help family court users to understand the workings of Family Court, including Fact Finding hearings and legal aid. Genevieve also participated in the implementation of a new Court Support Training Programme offering victims of domestic violence face-to-face support and guidance through the Family Court system. 

As Pro Bono Officer of the Student Law Society, Genevieve supported the Student Law Clinic Climate Justice Pledge, an initiative to promote greater understanding of climate change as a social justice issue amongst University law clinics worldwide. Genevieve helped organise the conference held at the University of York and, thanks to her efforts, over 50 universities signed the Climate Justice Pledge and participated in the first annual Global Day of Action.

Francesca Shellard, Nottingham Trent University

“Francesca is operating above the level you would expect of a student at her stage of training…she is very good at organising and summarising complex information. She looks into matters beyond just a superficial glance… and is a willing volunteer to help out the Centre wherever she can.”

Francesca joined the Legal Advice Centre as a Legal Assistant in September 2018. She trained with the Free Representation Unit on social security issues and represented over ten clients at tribunal, achieving a 100% success rate and recovering over £460,000 in benefits. Francesca assisted the supervising caseworker in developing the tribunal representation service by developing referral relationships with local advice agencies and mentoring other representatives.

Francesca also worked closely with the Nottingham Women’s Centre and liaised with them in support of a student-led outreach project giving advice to vulnerable women through drop-in sessions which provide advice to members of the public in various areas of law, including employment, family and housing.  Alongside her full-time studies, Francesca continues to be involved with the Student Pro Bono Committee, acting as a link between the committee and the Legal Advice Centre, and remains a Free Representation Unit representative.

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Best contribution by a law school

Anglia Ruskin University Law Clinic, Anglia Ruskin University

“Anglia Ruskin University Law Clinic has made an enormous difference to the availability of legal advice on family law issues…the students have been well trained and the clinic functions as if it were a firm of solicitors.”

Cambridge, perhaps surprisingly, regularly tops the table of the UK’s most unequal places to live in terms of wealth.  The ARU Law Clinic was therefore launched in 2018 in order to provide a service that is of value to the local community and to respond to its needs.  The clinic in Cambridge runs weekly (including during the holidays) and smaller clinics also now run in Chelmsford (fortnightly) and Peterborough (weekly) and offer family law advice to those in need with the support of 15 barristers and 20 law firms. 

The clinic also offers student support to litigants in person at court hearings and most recently, at the request of the local judiciary, has launched a website designed to assist and guide litigants in person through the family court procedure and process.  The clinic has received 100% positive feedback from its clients since it opened its doors and its work highlights the need for free legal advice in apparently privileged rural areas and smaller cities.

BPP University, BPP University

“As a multi-centre law school, BPP could be forgiven for rolling out a ‘one size fits all’ pro bono service to serve a national student demand.  What stands BPP apart, however, is the fact that its pro bono services are driven entirely by the changing needs of the communities in which it operates.”

With existing advice clinics based in London, Manchester and Leeds, BPP now offers an Enterprise Clinic which provides commercial advice for start-ups and small businesses nationally.  It also has a dedicated Family Law Clinic in Holborn and an Employment Law Telephone Advice Line which operates in all centres.  BPP has tackled accessibility by putting clinics in the community.  Its Clinic in the First-tier (Property) Tribunal provides the only tribunal drop-in service for users experiencing residential property disputes and, in Leeds, its Family Court Advice Service works with Support Through Court to help the most vulnerable clients as they navigate the court process.  Across BPP’s clinics, 505 student volunteers have advised 595 clients in the past 16 months.

Students have also engaged in Public Legal Education through designing and delivering democracy-themed workshops.  BPP also fosters partnerships that support key pro bono services, most particularly with Support Through Court.

School of Law, University of Leeds, University of Leeds

“The absolute success of the service has been on different levels; from the strategic level of helping to establish a very good relationship with the Tribunal Service to operationally helping us to deliver a much needed service to some of the most income deprived communities in England.”

The School of Law (SOL) has over 270 students involved in a number of pro bono projects, all of which are designed to be collaborative with external parties and driven by community need.  In particular, students support an Appeals Worker at Citizens Advice, Chapeltown, located in an area which is amongst the 10% most deprived in England.  Students assist the Appeals Worker to help clients who are challenging decisions made about Personal Independent Payment (PIP), Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit.  The project has a success rate of 98%, compared to 28% for those who are unrepresented. 

Students also provide one-to-one assistance to PIP applicants through Leeds City Council (LCC) by helping clients (who often have mental or physical disabilities or language barriers) to complete application forms.  LCC have been able to hold 500 additional appointments with clients that they would otherwise have not have been able to assist.

Liverpool Law Clinic, University of Liverpool

“You and the students helped me a lot. We had a very difficult immigration problem before. Now, because of the Clinic, my son is British. I never thought that would be possible.”

Liverpool City Region is one of the most deprived areas in England, with high levels of unemployment, disability and poverty.  The Law Department is therefore committed to building strong partnerships with local firms and NGOs to increase local provision of free legal services.  The Law Clinic provides full representation for immigration clients whose cases do not qualify for legal aid.  It provides specialist assistance for stateless people, works in partnership with the Red Cross to provide advice and representation to victims of trafficking and represents people on nationality, asylum, human rights and refugee family reunion applications.  The impact on clients’ lives is life changing. 

The Law Clinic has also provided advice and support on family law to nearly 200 clients this academic year, providing early advice which is crucial to help resolve disputes.  Since the start of the last academic year, students have also assisted 620 clients to complete welfare benefits applications in community settings.

Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre, Nottingham Trent University

“The support from the Centre was absolutely incredible. I most certainly wouldn’t have been able to pay for the service and representation…..I can’t thank this service enough.”

Operating as an ABS law firm, with a team of seven full time staff assisted by student volunteers and practitioner academics, pro bono legal advice and representation is offered on a range of legal matters, including welfare benefits, employment, tribunal representation, family and Intellectual Property.

Recent expansion saw a new business & commercial service being set up, as well as a Special Educational Needs & Disability service, identifying unmet legal need and covering matters falling outside the scope of legal aid. In addition to this, a student-led initiative which focuses on Outreach Services at local community centres reaches some of the most deprived areas improving access to justice for the residents.

The impact this work has had on clients, some of the most vulnerable in society, is evidenced by the substantial amount recouped in benefits and compensation, totalling £4.2 million over the past 6 years. Student participation in pro bono activities has increased by 15% over the past year, with 30% of student volunteers coming from a BAME/widening participation background.

University of South Wales Law School, University of South Wales

“There are no words lovely enough to compliment all staff on the wonderful advice, respect and kindness shown to me at a very distressing time in my life. A very big thank you to you all.”

This student-led clinic is at the forefront of maintaining access to justice for the local community of the South Wales Valleys, where unemployment rates are higher than the national average and where a high concentration of people rely on welfare benefits.

Every law student has the opportunity to participate in the clinic, overseen by a team of six supervising solicitors. The clinic is open all year round. In the past 12 months, 215 students have taken part, providing free legal advice and full case-work to support clients through to court proceedings when necessary.

A collaborative approach is taken, forming mutually beneficial partnerships with Citizens Advice and Shelter Cymru, the local law society and law firms, to work on community-based projects such as the Employment Litigants in Person Support Scheme.  This year, new partnerships have been established with Cardiff Lawyers Care to set up a homeless advice clinic and with Capital Law for a Business Law clinic. They have also opened a Litigants in Person Helpdesk at Pontypridd Family Court.

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Best contribution by a team of students

Enterprise Clinic Student Director Team, BPP University

“Professionalism, efficiency, clarity, thoughtfulness of the interview.  I felt very encouraged by my business plan.  Very impressed, very personable.”

BBP’s Enterprise Clinic was launched in 2017 in recognition of the fact that there are 2.5 million ‘microbusinesses’ in the UK with ten or fewer employee.  The clinic therefore provides free legal advice to start-ups and businesses that would otherwise not have access to justice.

The clinic runs across BPP’s Manchester and London sites, holding three clinics a week and relies on the hard work of the four Student Directors (Lucy Garrett, Adam Furniss, Jessica Miller and Oliver Bailey) who organise 80 of their peers into provided a co-ordinated service.  Since its opening, the clinic has offered 6,000 hours of volunteer time to 204 local businesses on issues such as IP, business structure and landlord and tenant disputes. 

The Student Directors are an impressive team, reflected in the fact that within 36 hours of the COVID-19 lockdown they had planned and executed a strategy to enable the clinic to continue online, without any interruption of services.

King’s & Z2K project King’s Legal Clinic, King’s College London

“The work undertaken by the King’s students empowers clients to take the lead in tribunal hearings and [they] work in depth to ensure our clients understand their rights and access vital social security benefits.”

A team of six students from King’s College, London have worked with the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K) in order to launch the King’s & Z2K Project in 2019.  Following intensive training delivered by Z2K, King’s students have assisted in providing advice and representation to vulnerable clients who are challenging decisions made about their welfare benefits at First-tier Tribunals.  King’s students arrange to meet and interview each client, carry out legal research, provide detailed advice and draft submissions in support of clients’ appeals.  They also accompany the clients to the hearings which involves explanation and reassurance to the anxious clients, in addition to advocacy if required at the Tribunal. 

The team have displayed great sensitivity and professionalism throughout the appeal process and the positive impact on clients, many of whom have serious multiple health needs, has been considerable.  Of the nine appeals heard so far, four have been won, one is subject to an onward appeal and decisions are remaining on the others.

Plymouth Law Clinic and Red Cross partnership, British Red Cross and University of Plymouth

“This project is emotionally challenging for all who engage with it and the resilience and perseverance of this group of students has been noteworthy.”

Law students from Plymouth University have made an impressive contribution to the Refugee Family Reunion Law Clinic which is run by the British Red Cross.  Plymouth is a dispersal city for asylum seekers and, as a result, the clinic runs between 20 to 30 asylum cases at any one time. Students work with vulnerable individuals, many of whom are struggling with mental health issues and facing destitution, while being forcibly separated from immediate family members and facing significant obstacles to reunite with them.  Using interpreters, the nine students engage with clients in a kind and respectful manner and dedicate a significant number of hours to progressing refugee family reunion immigration applications under the supervision of Red Cross staff.

Eight students have also collaborated with the British Red Cross through the International Humanitarian Law teaching project in which they research, prepare and deliver lessons using British Red Cross materials to pupils at Devonport High School for Girls, which received very positive feedback from both pupils and teachers.

Streetlaw in the Manchester Employment Tribunal, University of Salford and BPP University

“The presentations are of great benefit to the members of the public who attend them….[They] provide clarity and reassurance to individuals about what will happen in their case, and help to improve access to justice in this region.”

Teams of students from the University of Salford and BPP University have worked together to deliver an innovative pro bono project to unrepresented employment litigants in the Greater Manchester area, with the active support of the Regional Employment Judge and the Manchester Employment Tribunal.  Initially students undertook employment law training and attended hearings in order to prepare two Streetlaw information packages, one covering Employment Tribunal procedures and the other addressing what to expect at a final hearing.   Referrals were then made by the Manchester Employment Tribunal and other third sector organisations to encourage the widest possible audience of individuals (who have either made a claim or who have a potential claim) to attend training sessions which are delivered by the students with clear and accurate information about the preparation required for an Employment Tribunal hearing. 

Particularly significant is the joint working of teams from two different universities which has made this innovative project effective in terms of addressing community need.

The Refugee Law Clinic, Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University

“Much of the credit for the success of the clinic must be given to the diligence and commitment of our students who are willing and ready to learn, and to give their best to our clients.”

Undergraduate and postgraduate students at The Refugee Law Clinic are trained to work alongside registered immigration and asylum specialists, helping refugees to navigate the complex processes and procedures for making family reunification applications.  Clients have often been separated from their families in extremely difficult circumstances such as persecution or threat of persecution.  In addition to interviewing refugees and their family members overseas (with vetted interpreters), students at the clinic assists in completing online and paper forms, helping to collate relevant evidence, witness statements and drafting cover letters.  The clinic also supports families throughout the duration of the application process.  It submitted applications on behalf of 110 refugee families during the period from November 2018 to February 2020 and all requests made to the Home Office for review were successful, meaning that the cases did not need to go to appeal. 

Initial Advice Clinics, University of Strathclyde Law Clinic

“This initiative is continually fulfilling unmet legal needs by giving members of the public, who would be unable to get legal advice from any other source, help with a range of legal issues.”

Initial Advice Clinics (IACs) is a student-led scheme which began ten years ago and is a vital resource for those who slip between the cracks.  Members of the public can attend the IACs fortnightly and receive free on-the-spot legal advice from students, trainee and qualified solicitors.  In the past year, the project supported a total of 344 clients, the most vulnerable of whom are referred on to the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic for more in-depth casework.  The IACs are now considered such an integral part of the Employment Tribunal process that sitting judges will often make recommendations to claimants at preliminary hearings, urging them to use the service.

Students who have worked in the IACs not only learn from this experience but often return once they have started their legal careers to volunteer their time, thus continuing to develop the community spirit of the scheme.

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Access to Justice Foundation award

The shortlist for the Access to Justice Foundation award for an educational body or student making a significant contribution to promoting access to justice is:

University of Manchester Pro Bono Society

The University of Manchester Pro Bono Society have been doing some great work with charities and schools in Manchester. They currently work with Making Space, On the Out, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, The Pankhurst Trust (incorporating Women's Aid and the Saheli Asian Women's Project.

As well as this, their new StreetLaw initiative involves them working with various local colleges including Whalley Range, Loreto College and Ashton Sixth Form. It is worth noting that Whalley Range have asked the Pro Bono Society to incorporate their research and efforts into their curriculum, in addition to extracurricular presentations.

Plymouth Law Clinic

Plymouth Law Clinic participated in a wide range of events including an access to Justice South West conference in collaboration with Public Law Project and Plymouth Citizens Advice. Students have also undertaken a variety of fundraising events to raise funds for the Access to Justice Foundation.

The StreetLaw programme has added to last year's initiative in 3 areas:

Employment security: information received from agencies working with refugees suggested that knowledge of employment law around employment and self-employment as well as casual work and zero hours contracts would be beneficial. This work in turn builds partnerships with organisations working with refugees to provide support and advice and raises awareness of the work of those organisations such as Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support and Students and Refugees Together. 

Homelessness: Students promote the work of agencies such as the Shekinah Mission and Shelter.

Digital safety: Targeted at younger people and parents engaging with the work of experts such as a Professor of Children and Technology.

Students have also developed partnerships organisations such as Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service, the British Red Cross and Plymouth and Devon Race Equality Council.

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LawWorks and Advocate Law School Challenge 2019-20

This year's top three teams of the Law School Challenge are:

  • London School of Economics
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Leeds

 

The LawWorks and Attorney General's Student Pro Bono Awards are sponsored by:

LexisNexis logo

Need to get in touch?

If you have a question about the awards, please contact:

Peter Jackson, Communications Officer, 020 7092 3952

James Sandbach, Director of Policy and External Affairs, 020 7092 3943