LawWorks and Attorney General's Student Pro Bono Awards 2018

The exceptional contribution of law students and law schools to pro bono legal advice was celebrated at the annual LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards, held at the House of Commons on 25th April.

The awards recognise the dedication and commitment of law schools and law students across the country and the contribution of student pro bono in enabling access to legal advice and representation.

The awards ceremony was hosted by High Court Judge Sir Robin Knowles CBE and the event was attended by over 200 guests.

Of over 230 clinics in the LawWork clinics network, two-fifths (40%) operate through law schools. In the year to April 2017, over 3,150 students volunteered in law clinics, dealing with over 18,000 enquiries. Student clinics provide advice in a variety of areas such as family, welfare benefits, employment, housing and small claims.

The Attorney General, the Right Hon Jeremy Wright QC said:

“The Pro Bono Student Awards are a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge the committed and hardworking law students who have put in a huge amount of work to help increase access to justice in their communities.

This year’s nominees should be extremely proud of their achievements – it is their enthusiasm and generosity which helps preserve the strong pro bono ethos in the UK’s legal profession.

LawWorks are grateful to LexisNexis, who sponsored the awards for the tenth year running, demonstrating a continued commitment to student pro bono.

The winners are:

Best contribution by a Law School: Plymouth Law School, Plymouth University

Over half of all the law students at Plymouth Law School are involved in pro bono activity. The law school runs a number of clinics – on employment law, family law and welfare benefits. A refugee Family Reunion Clinic is run in partnership with the British Red Cross in which the students help to reunite vulnerable families forcibly separated by conflict and persecution.

The runner up for ‘Best contribution by a Law School’: School of Law, Ulster University.

Best contribution by a team of students: The Birmingham Free Legal Advice Group Coordinators (FLAG), University of Birmingham

This team of nine dedicated student volunteers on the frontline in dealing with all public enquiries in relation to the clinic, processing each enquiry, booking appointments with FLAG’s partner firms and chambers, or signposting the client to alternative sources of assistance.  This year the team dealt with over 330 enquiries in just five months – dedicating a minimum of 3 to 5 hours per week each to the project.

The runner up for ‘Best contribution by a team of students’: University of Exeter Access to Justice Clinic Students, University of Exeter Law School.

Best contribution by an individual student: Catherine Ruta - University of Birmingham

Catherine chairs the law school’s Pro Bono Group, and has worked hard to promote pro bono to fellow students. She has been an excellent ambassador externally, including speaking at events during National Pro Bono Week, and at a meeting with the Attorney General.  She volunteers at the local Personal Support Unit providing emotional and practical support for litigants in person

The runner up for ‘Best contribution by an individual student’: Rebecca Smith – University of Greenwich.

Best new pro bono activity: The Family Justice Project, Northumbria Law School, Northumbria University

This project provides bespoke family law and domestic violence clinics. Using creative and innovative ways to engage, in particular, members of minority communities, the project includes a drop-in legal advice clinic for Black and Minority ethnic women concerning issues such as female genital mutilation and honour-based violence.

The runners up for ‘Best new pro bono activity’: BPP Enterprise Legal Advice Clinic, BPP University and Children's Social Care and SEND Clinic, University of Liverpool Law Clinic.

The Attorney General also presented Edinburgh University Free Legal Advice Centre with the Access to Justice Foundation Award which recognises the work of individuals and educational bodies in promoting and supporting access to justice and charities which provide pro bono services.

Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University was announced as the winner of the Law School Challenge, a law school led initiative to raise funds for LawWorks and the Bar Pro Bono Unit. The University of Exeter Law School and the University of Huddersfield were also recognised for their efforts as runners up.

Thank you to the Attorney General, The Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP, for presenting the Awards, to His Honour Sir Robin Knowles CBE for hosting the ceremony and our judges for the 2018 Awards:

  • Christina Blacklaws, Vice-president of the Law Society
  • Josh Richman, Senior editor, LawCareers.Net
  • James Harper, Executive Sponsor, Rule of Law and CSR for LexisNexis UK & Ireland
  • Alison Padfield QC, Co-Chair of the Bar Council Pro Bono Panel
  • Peter Farr, Trustee of CILEx Pro Bono Trust 

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

 

LawWorks Chair, Alasdair Douglas opened the afternoon ceremony.

The Attorney General, the Right Hon Jeremy Wright QC presented the awards.

Alex Chalk MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pro Bono and Public Legal Education welcomed the students

Sir Robin Knowles CBE with the Access to Justice Foundation Award winners Edinburgh Free Legal Advice Centre and Christina Blacklaws, Vice President of the Law Society and LawWorks trustee (right).

James Harper, Executive Sponsor, Rule of Law and CSR for LexisNexis UK & Ireland.

Nominees and their guests enjoyed refreshments...

... and cakes.