The great and the good of the legal world convened at the Law Society last night (Thursday) for the 11th annual Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) Pro Bono Awards.
The awards were introduced over a decade ago to showcase the outstanding pro bono work undertaken by students, trainees and junior solicitors throughout England and Wales.
Chair of the JLD Pro Bono Awards Committee Kevin Poulter said: “Junior lawyers are consistently involved in undertaking pro bono work at home and abroad. The commitment and enthusiasm of junior lawyers in securing access to equality and justice and setting an example for future lawyers and the profession is to be commended.”
Norton Rose trainee solicitor Bobby Kensah was awarded JLD pro bono lawyer of the year for his work advising and supporting vulnerable individuals in police custody as an “appropriate adult legal adviser”, as well as volunteer adviser, coordinator and organiser of the Norton Rose Tooting Legal Advice Centre.
College of Law Legal Practice Course (LPC) student Birchlyn Conte was highly commended for her participation in a number of voluntary legal advice and assistance schemes, including the National Centre for Domestic Violence.
The International Human Rights Award went to fellow CoL student Ben Spencer for his work as a volunteer with the school’s Legal Advice Centre Triage Team.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer associate Michael Spencer scooped the Wig & Pen prize for his work at human rights organisation Liberty.
This year the event took the form of a panel debate and the JLD asked the question: should pro bono be compulsory for all lawyers?.
Panelists including Vera Baird QC, Lord Phillips of Sudbury and David Howarth, Liberal Democrat shadow justice secretary took part in the debate.
The panel session was followed by the presentation of the JLD Pro Bono Awards.