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  • Writer's pictureCardiff JLD

Pro Bono Week 2023: 'Transforming Lives Through Pro Bono'




Introduction


Our Junior Vice Chair and Head of Pro Bono, Connor Massey and Pro Bono and Sponsorship Officer, Megan McBlain were delighted to attend the launch event for Pro Bono Week 2023, hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in London (albeit remotely). The event commenced with an opening speech from Attorney General the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP discussing the importance of pro bono work as well as a talk from a panel of speakers which highlighted a variety of pro bono initiatives that truly change lives in the UK.


The event concluded with an inspiring speech from Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lady Rose of Colmworth. Connor and Meg have extensively considered the pro bono schemes that are available and were discussed throughout the course of the event, and provided excerpts as to the lesser-known pro bono organisations that require more funding, assistance and general awareness:



Speaker – Mair Willaims (Barrister, Latham & Watkins, Trustee/Director, APPEAL)


APPEAL is a charity and law practice dedicated to fighting miscarriages of justice and demanding reform. They fight the cases of individual victims of unsafe convictions and unfair sentences who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer themselves. APPEAL are leaders in integrating quality legal representation and holistic care for those we represent in parallel with advocacy for system reform.


Recent case under APPEAL – Andrew Malkinson. On 26 July 2023, the Court quashed Mr Malkinson’s wrongful conviction for rape, for which he spent over 17 years in prison, in view of new DNA evidence implicating another suspect.



Speaker – Katie Cotton Partner at Orrick, Advocate, Voices for Families.


The Voices for Families project is a collaboration between LawWorks, Together For Short Lives and a number of firms that help children with life-limiting conditions and their families to get legal advice regarding housing and community care, and to ensure their rights are protected. This pro bono collaboration has helped over 100 people since being set up in 2014.


Recent Case – Voices for Families supported the parents of a young daughter with cerebral palsy. The help from Voices for Families meant that their daughter could receive care 7 nights a week as opposed to the 5 nights offered by the Local Authority. This help was invaluable to these parents and the mother herself confirmed that “[she is] forever indebted to you all”.



Speaker – Caron Heyes Director, Fieldfisher, Advocate, Rachel’s Voice


Rachel’s voice is a partnership project between national learning disability charity Mencap and international law firm Fieldfisher LLP. Named after the daughter of one of their earliest clients, Rachel Johnston, their project works to address systemic healthcare inequalities within the learning disability population, and challenges healthcare practices which put people with disabilities at risk.


Led by Caron Heyes, Director in the Medical Negligence team at Fieldfisher, and solicitor for Rachel’s family during the inquest into her death, this project aims to provide families in similar situations the pro bono (free) support they need in order to access justice.



Speaker – Laura Hyne Associate, Reed Smith, Volunteer, Maternity Action


Maternity Action assist women facing pregnancy and maternity discrimination. From the very first google search, to finding their numerous detailed advice pages and calling their Advice Line, women are able to access free, high quality and specialist legal advice from a team of qualified lawyers. Some of those women will be referred through to Maternity Action’s casework team who spend days, weeks and sometimes months supporting women through the problems they are facing at work.


The aim of their services are to empower women to find a legal solution to the problem they are facing. Maternity Action want to help them to keep their jobs, secure the pay they are entitled to, have a safe working environment and to work child friendly hours, and importantly to have the confidence to challenge discrimination. Their advice service, and the women they help, are at the heart of what they do.


The Cardiff and Southeast Wales JLD are always open to consider collaboration and/or fundraising events. To get involved, please email cardiffandsewalesjld@gmail.com.


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