We are pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for three awards at the annual LawWorks Pro Bono Awards. Housing director Dianne Cowie and child care director Ravi Kaur Mahey are both shortlisted for the Best Contribution by an Individual award, and the work carried out by Cardiff and Swansea offices has resulted in our shortlisting for the LawWorks Cymru award.
The LawWorks Pro Bono Awards celebrate the best pro bono activities carried out in the legal profession by organisations and individuals, and the positive impact those activities have had.
Chambers and Partners ranked and Legal 500 recommended lawyer Dianne Cowie’s commitment to pro bono work is outstanding. Since January 2018, she and members of the housing team in Croydon, have been providing pro bono housing assistance in conjunction with Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth. Dianne helps to coordinate these sessions in which she and her team offer legal advice on matters including housing disrepair, homelessness, neighbourhood problems, and possession proceedings.
Moreover, Dianne provides training to Citizens Advice volunteers and caseworkers on issues such as homelessness and possession proceedings and how best to assist those at risk of these issues. This training was so successful that Dianne has been asked to provide further training in January 2020.
Also nominated for the Best Contribution by an Individual award is child care director Ravi Kaur Mahey. She is passionate about enabling those with vulnerabilities to access legal assistance and runs a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) clinic to provide frontline legal advice to those who are at risk of or have experienced FGM. She also takes part in clinics organised by Women’s Aid and Chrysalis, aimed at supporting women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse.
Ravi’s most significant pro bono undertaking occurred during her representation of a child who was at risk of FGM in the first FGM case to be heard in the Court of Appeal - (X (A Child) (Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order: Restrictions on Travel)  EWHC 2898 (Fam)) . Shortly before the appeal hearing, the mother – who was appellant – had her legal aid withdrawn. Ravi continued to represent the parents of the child pro bono throughout the successful appeal hearing and the current re-trial.
For the third time, our Cardiff and Swansea based teams have been shortlisted for the LawWorks Cymru award. Our teams in Cardiff and Swansea carry our significant pro bono work throughout South Wales, with a particular focus on assisting vulnerable clients who for a variety of reasons are unable to access justice.
The housing department, led by director Lynda Reid, is involved in a number of pro bono projects; for over four years the team has been holding a weekly housing drop-in clinic at the office, established in association with Cardiff HUB. Members of the housing team also worked with the PSU (Personal Support Unit) to run a free legal advice clinic for housing law, taking place at Cardiff County Court. Child Care solicitor Joanne Williams also collaborates with the PSU, taking part in a fortnightly clinic on family law.
Additionally, immigration director Vinita Templeton takes on significant pro bono work in relation to Commonwealth nationals, providing essential advice to those affected by the Windrush Scandal and prioritising cases of Commonwealth veterans who have experienced significant historical injustices post-discharge from the army.
Trainee solicitor Samuel Bass attends a weekly drop in clinic in Cardiff every Monday evening as part of Asylum Justice, the only charitable organisation in Wales that offers free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers, recognised refugees, and vulnerable migrants.
The pro bono work that the teams carry out at the Cardiff and Swansea offices has positively impacted hundreds of vulnerable individuals, the teams routinely go above and beyond in order to best serve those in need of high-quality legal advice.
The LawWorks Pro Bono Awards evening will be held on Tuesday 3rd December at the Law Society, Chancery Lane, London. In attendance will be President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale who will giving a talk prior to the commencement and presentation of the awards.
We offer congratulations to all of our nominees, and wish Dianne and Ravi the best of luck as they go head-to-head for the Best Contribution by an Individual award (although both are winners in our eyes). We hope that it will be third time lucky for the Wales teams in their quest for the LawWorks Cymru award and wish them all pob lwc!