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LawWorks & Attorney General Awards 2018 – A great day out for our law students

Victoria Speed is Joint Director of Pro Bono & CSR at BPP Law School.

Every year law students in law schools across the country take part in pro bono initiatives providing important legal advice and education services to the most vulnerable in our communities. Whilst pro bono is no substitute for a well-funded legal services system, the value of student pro bono work must not be underestimated. These days, there is hardly a law school around the country without some form of pro bono service. In certain parts of the country, it can make the most essential difference to those without other means of seeking legal advice on important areas of law – housing, benefits, family, employment and more. The LawWorks & Attorney General Awards are a chance to celebrate student pro bono activity and to put the spotlight on just some of those projects in the most prestigious of settings, the Members Dining Room at the House of Commons.

Students with the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP

At BPP Law School, pro bono projects are well established. Our enormously successful public legal education project, Streetlaw, is in its fourteenth year. In the last academic year (2016/17), 325 BPP law students voluntarily delivered over 200 Streetlaw sessions across the UK to over 3000 members of the public in prisons, youth centres, homeless shelters, schools, employment tribunals and community groups. The success of this project requires a few things – staff with passion and talent for developing engaging, educational products and training students, fantastic partners willing to let our students into their communities and, most importantly, engaged and motivated students willing to step outside of the comfort zone of their university environment and make a difference. Some students take on even more responsibility and act as Student Directors. One Student Director, Niki Mehta, was shortlisted in the category of Best Contribution by a Law Student at this year’s LawWorks & Attorney General Awards. She didn’t win but, to be amongst the fantastic candidates in this category was a huge achievement and so well deserved by Niki, who commits so much of her free time to the success of the project.

Niki, centre, with Streetlaw staff

Many of the BPP Pro Bono Centre projects are in their tenth year, thanks to proper resourcing and careful project management. However, we are always trying to ensure that our projects are responsive to client needs, offering our students greater opportunities to engage in current and topical legal issues. Consequently, it is hugely satisfying, that two of our projects were shortlisted in the Best New Project category at the awards.

The BPP Law Ambassador Programme runs in the Law School’s Leeds centre. It advances public legal education across Yorkshire. Secondary school pupils in Years 11,12 and 13 become “law ambassadors” and participate in a range of legal experiences involving the criminal justice system, run by BPP Law Students and volunteer practitioners from the local legal community.

The Leeds Law Ambassador Programme team

The BPP Enterprise Legal Advice Clinic provides free legal advice to start-ups and small businesses in partnership with The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network, a social enterprise that sees the business potential within the refugee community. The clinic clients have one-to-one appointments with student advisors in London and Manchester and the students offer a range of services, including advice and drafting of documents and templates. The clinic also offers training to the refugees on various aspects of UK business law and disseminates knowledge through an online resource. To date, 83 students have volunteered to provide 570 pro bono hours to 60 businesses.

We are delighted that both projects were shortlisted and very pleased for all concerned with the clinic as it was awarded Runner-Up in this category!

The BPP Pro Bono Enterprise Clinic team

We look forward to what the next year brings in the Pro Bono Centre and take this opportunity to thank all of our students for their work this year! Congratulations to all.

BPP students and staff