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The Solicitor General visits the pro bono centre

On the 27th January BPP’s award winning pro bono centre was fortunate to host a visit from the Solicitor General, the Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC MP. Prior to his election to parliament in 2010, Mr Ellis was a criminal defence barrister representing clients on Legal Aid, having been called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1993.

Mr Ellis was keen to understand the work carried out by BPP’s Legal Advice Clinics, asking questions about the scope of the cases dealt with and the range of clients we see. Clearly impressed, he commented that this should be done in every university.

Generous with his time, Mr Ellis spent longer at BPP than was originally planned and met with a number of student directors from a range of pro bono projects. He asked about the motivations for undertaking pro bono work whilst a student and reflected on his own experience of going into prison to meet prisoners in a far less structured environment whilst he was studying for the Bar. He commended the students for their dedication and acknowledged the difficulty of joining the legal profession but was very encouraging to the future solicitors and barristers.

Kurt Satney, a BPTC student who is the Student Director for both Streetlaw and the London Legal Advice Clinic, said:
“The Solicitor General shared insights into his own experiences as a student volunteer and this in many ways mirrored mine, which is very inspiring. I continue to be very proud to a part of such a dedicated team of volunteers and will continue volunteering throughout my legal career.

For Alethea Redfern, a BPTC student and editor of the BPP Human Rights Blog. The visit “was a valuable reminder of the importance of the work we do, and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the projects other students are undertaking at BPP”.

Frankie Hall, a Part-Time LPC student, commented: “Meeting the Solicitor General was a great opportunity to advocate for Pro Bono. He was genuinely interested in our work and in the impact Pro Bono can have in meeting unmet legal needs. Volunteering with Pro Bono is its own reward, but it was great to have the hard work of the Pro Bono Centre recognised by a government minister.”

Mr Ellis identified the role of pro bono in demystifying the law and legal jargon, something which is invaluable for clients, and noted the significance in participation in pro bono in inspiring students for their future legal careers. Pro bono, he noted, benefitted both students and the public. The pro bono centre was something that BPP should be very proud of and he thanked BPP for its support.

Tony Martin – Head Of Clinics, BPP Pro Bono Centre