Efforts to advance access to justice praised at annual LawWorks ceremony
A number of law schools across England and Wales have been recognised for their endeavours in advancing access to justice at this year’s LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards.
The Windrush Justice Clinic, a partnership between London South Bank University, King’s College London and the University of Westminster, received the gong for ‘Best new pro bono activity’.
The clinic strives to help victims of the Windrush scandal receive the compensation they deserve and, as a result, over 100 clients have been assisted to claim Home Office compensation with 20 being awarded an impressive total of £1,151,000.
The University of Essex’s Samantha Howlett bagged the gong for ‘Best contribution by an individual’, in recognition of the ‘positivity, enthusiasm and professionalism’ shown from the start of her clinic life that made her stand out as an exceptional volunteer.
Judges noted her efforts as a ‘highly effective and active’ student director, despite also managing her studies, a family and a home, taking on extensive client casework and formal and ad-hoc roles in assisting staff and students. Her work is said to consistently show her passion for helping people in need, particularly in relation to domestic abuse matters and cases concerning children.
Elsewhere, BPP University’s Pro Bono Centre scooped up the award for ‘Best contribution by a law school’. In 2020/21, the virtual BPP Legal Advice Clinic advised 30% more clients than in the previous year, with a significant increase in volunteer engagement. Some 3,950 people have benefitted from BPP’s Streetlaw project, consisting of live and recorded online sessions, podcasts and broadcasts, and aimed at improving access to justice by demystifying complex areas of law. In the last 16 months, BPP’s students and volunteer lawyers have also provided initial advice to 600 clients through the Employment Law Telephone Advice Line.
Meanwhile, ‘Best contribution by a team of students’ went to the Shelter Court Runner Team at Hertfordshire Law School. The court runner scheme, a collaboration between Hertfordshire Law School and national housing charity Shelter, sees ten law students help Shelter’s in-house solicitor to support defendants facing possession orders and are at risk of homelessness.
The awards, dished out earlier this month, received support from Attorney General, the Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP. She said:
“I would like to congratulate everybody who was nominated for this year’s awards. I am sure that you will all go on to have excellent careers in the law and would urge you to keep up the excellent pro bono work when you’re in practice. I would also like to thank LawWorks for organising a wonderful event and continuing to highlight the excellent pro bono work done by students across the UK.”