Trio scoop LawWorks gongs
A trio of UK law schools have been recognised for their efforts in promoting access to justice within their local communities.
BPP University Law School scooped the gong for ‘best contribution by a law school’ at this year’s LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards. The judges were particularly impressed with its advice clinics in London, Manchester and Leeds, as well as its Enterprise Clinic which provides commercial advice for start-ups and small businesses nationally.
Across BPP’s pro bono centres, 505 student volunteers have advised 595 clients in the past 16 months.
Emma Blackstone and Lucy Wildig, joint heads of pro bono at BPP, said:
“We are thrilled that the hard work of our staff and students has been recognised through this award. While the accolades and kudos from industry and peers is always welcomed, there is, and always will be, a genuine emphasis to help those who need access to legal advice, because it underpins everything we do.”
Elsewhere, Hertfordshire University’s Law Clinic bagged the award for ‘best new pro bono activity’. Since its launch in October 2019, the clinic has stepped in to help members of the public on low incomes seek free family law advice in response to the cuts in legal aid.
One-hundred-and-fifteen students from across the law school have taken part in the clinics, which also offer free support to small businesses on intellectual property and commercial law. It is also considered to be the only uni clinic where powers of attorney are prepared by students under the supervision of qualified lawyers.
Sticking with Hertfordshire, one of its own, Sartaz Billing, landed the prize for ‘best contribution by an individual. The law undergrad assists with the uni’s power of attorney clinic and is a trained advisor with Citizens Advice, covering housing, employment, benefits and consumer rights issues.
Elsewhere, law students from Plymouth University won ‘best contribution by a team of students’ for their assistance with the Refugee Family Reunion Law Clinic, which in conjunction with the Red Cross, helps reunite refugees with their families where they have become separated due to persecution or conflict.
Plymouth’s Law Clinic also bagged the ‘Access to Justice Foundation Award’ for its wider efforts to promote pro bono activities. Students have participated in a range of events across the South West, including an access to Justice South West conference in collaboration with the Public Law Project and Plymouth Citizens Advice. They have also developed partnerships with organisations such as Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service, the British Red Cross and Plymouth and Devon Race Equality Council.
The Attorney General, Suella Braverman QC MP, said:
“It is a delight to mark the contribution of so many of you to our justice system. Pro bono reflects the best of our profession and I’m delighted to see so many, who are at the beginning of their training, so enthusiastic about pro bono. It’s great to see so many innovative and diverse projects which are part of these awards… on behalf of the government I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you.”