The Legal Advocacy Support Project, a partnership between Avon & Bristol Law Centre (ABLC), the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Law has won ‘Pro Bono Initiative of the Year’ at The Lawyer Awards 2016. The announcement was made at a gala dinner at the O2 Intercontinental Hotel, London, attended by over 1,000 people from law firms across the country last night.
Whilst at UWE Bristol Law School, students are actively encouraged to get involved in a variety of projects from supporting local residents in dealing with community issues to providing free legal advice and assistance to members of the public.
This pro bono work provides UWE students with a great way of gaining experience in legal work and learning how to provide law-related advice.
UWE Bristol students have been volunteering at the ABLC advising claimants challenging changes made to their disability entitlement for over three years. To date they have helped to win more than £1 million in benefits for clients incorrectly judged to be capable of working by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Clare Carter, ABLC’s Director, said, “We are immensely proud of our team who are working with the some of the most disadvantaged people in our community. Following cuts in legal aid, these people have nowhere else to turn. This project is now a model that other areas of the country are following.”
Marcus Keppel-Palmer, UWE’s pro bono liaison, said, “We are delighted that the Avon & Bristol Law Centre has been recognised for the pro bono partnership with the University.
“At ABLC, our student volunteers have helped to advise claimants by challenging changes made to their disability entitlement. Since the project started the success rate of appeals made by the students and ABLC stands well above the national average at 95 per cent.
“Last year we announced that the students had helped to win more than £1 million in benefits for clients incorrectly judged to be capable of working by the Department for Work and Pensions.
“Recognition at The Lawyer Awards 2016 for our partners at Avon & Bristol Law Centre is wonderful news and demonstrates huge success for our commitment to pro bono work and the mutual benefits that both organisations have derived from this.
“We are committed to giving students as many opportunities through extra-curricular activities such as pro bono, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level.
“Our students devote significant amounts of their time to assisting the local community, and we are very proud of the recognition for the link with the Avon & Bristol Law Centre.”
The project has helped more than 200 people over the last two years with an average of £5,000 won for each client.
Students who take part in pro bono work do well in the future as is borne out by the University’s Destination of Leavers in Higher Education data released today showing that 96% of UWE Bristol law graduates were in employment or further study just six months after graduation.