Rising legal stars from the University of Chester who volunteer to help others have won an esteemed national award for their hard work, dedication and the difference they make.
They have been recognised for the Best Contribution by a Team of Students in the 2023 LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards.
The Awards celebrate the best pro bono activities – legal advice or representation provided free of charge in the public interest – undertaken by Law students and Law Schools from across the UK.
The Chester Law students were presented with the award at a ceremony at the House of Commons with the Attorney General, after being shortlisted for the Immigration Project. Through this initiative, students work with Eastgate Chambers, a firm committed to improving the lives of refugees.
Students from the University were nominated in three of the five awards categories and alongside the win, were highly commended by the judges for the Best New Pro Bono Activity. The commendation celebrated partnership work with Pregnant Then Screwed, a charity that seeks to tackle the root causes of maternity discrimination and promote the rights of women.
The University of Chester Law School operates several student-run community outreach projects as part of the Chester Community Law Project (CCLP), each led by student project managers and operated by student volunteers from the undergraduate Law degree. The CCLP provides free guidance on a variety of legal topics and runs initiatives tailored to meet the needs of diverse communities within Chester and beyond.
The Best Contribution by a Team of Students award win highlights the outstanding contribution to pro bono activities of five students involved in the Immigration Project this year, by assisting refugees to work, study and settle in the UK.
The student volunteers assist a Legal Aid caseworker in their life-changing work with refugee clients, over 80% of whom have been forced from their homes by the war in Syria, in supporting the drafting of applications, as well as providing advice and guidance. Their support helps to ensure they are provided with the assistance they need – and a decision on their future more quickly.
Annabel Priest, who is one of the initiative’s Student Project Managers and was also nominated for the Best Contribution by an Individual Student award, said:
“The success of this project has pivoted on the willingness of others to help those most in need. It has been an absolute pleasure to manage this project alongside my fellow student Brad, and I hope that this success continues long after our graduation later this year.
“Thank you to Simon Clark from Eastgate Chambers, without whom we would not have been able to achieve this, and thank you to both Megan Cowan and Andrea Todd from Chester Law School for all of the encouragement they have provided to us in reminding us that we are far more capable than we realise.”
Bradley Bennett, fellow Student Project Manager, shared what the award means and more on who has been integral to achieving its aims:
“To win Best Contribution by a Team of Students at the 2023 LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards, is truly incredible.
“The Immigration Project would not be possible without Simon Clark and Eastgate Chambers; providing the fantastic platform to assist with making a difference to the lives of refugees.
“A huge thank you must also go to Andrea Todd and Megan Cowan for the extensive support they have provided to Annabel and I throughout managing this project. What a fantastic day at the House of Commons.”
Andrea Todd, Associate Professor of Active Citizenship and Director of Pro Bono and Community Engagement at Chester Law School said:
“It is wonderful to have the hard work, dedication and passion of our student volunteers recognised for such a prestigious award by such an esteemed panel of judges. We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our student volunteers each and every day.”
Megan Cowan, Lecturer and Chester Community Law Project Mentor, added:
“Mentoring Brad and Annabel on the Immigration Project this year has been an absolute pleasure and we are so proud of all they have achieved. This amazing award recognises not only their hard work and dedication but all our student volunteers who have spent time on the project. Thank you to Simon Clark and Eastgate Chambers for their partnership on this project, we look forward to continuing to help you assist those who need it most.”
The Attorney General, the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP offered “a huge congratulations to all the winners and nominees of this year’s awards, organised by LawWorks”.
She continued: “I am pleased to see that so many rising legal stars have been recognised. As you embark on your legal careers, I encourage you to continue your excellent pro bono work. Providing your services for free is vitally important to upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that everyone has equal access to legal advice.”