The 22nd anniversary of Pro Bono Week takes place this week (6-10 November).
This annual event offers an opportunity to recognise and support the voluntary contribution made by the legal profession across the UK in giving free legal help to those in need.
Red Lion Chambers remain at the forefront of working with those who are most vulnerable and in need of legal help as well as mentoring and participating in a wide range of outreach work.
Highlights this year include:
• RLC members and staff raised much needed funds for London Legal Support Trust, Free Representation Unit and Advocate by participating in the 2023 London Legal Walk. The Red Lion ‘Walkers’ included: Jeremy Benson KC, Riel Karmy-Jones KC, Sailesh Mehta, Richard Beynon, Paul Evans, Valerie Charbit, Timothy Kiely, Felicity Wilson and Nelly Rabbetts. [London Legal Walk 2023]
• First Launched in October of 2019, the RLC/ELBA programme has seen monthly mentoring sessions with aspiring law students from universities in East London. Mentors for the 2023 year long programme include Michelle Nelson KC (Head of the RLC/ELA Programme), Gillian Jones KC, Alistair Fell, Aneurin Brewer, Tim Kiely, Anita Clifford, Michael Goodwin KC, Zoë Chapman, Jack Talbot, Sophie Quinton-Carter, Ed Renvoize, Francesca Kirby, Josh Ellis and Serena Gates. Read more: [ELBA Mock Trial 2023]
• “Advocacy, Trial and Error” vignettes took place at the Old Bailey in one of the world’s most famous court rooms, Court No 1, during the evenings of 14-17 March 2023. Devised by former RLC Head of Chambers, HH Peter Rook KC the shows were co-sponsored by RLC and raised funds for two charities- the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund which supports ex-offenders and Pan Intercultural Arts which supports rescued victims of trafficking. Music included two songs by the Amies Freedom Choir all of whom are all survivors of modern slavery and trafficking: [Trial and Error 2023]
• Following the Black Lives Matter movement, the SHIFT25 campaign continues to address the prejudice and injustices the Black communities face in their daily lives and to work towards change with that ‘shift’ taking place by 2025: [Shift 25 Campaign]
• RLC partnered with the 10,000 Black Interns Foundation to assist aspiring law students Ayo Salami and Junior Ikechi who completed internships in Chambers as part of the 10,000 Black Interns Foundation programme. The foundation champions underrepresented talent and promotes equality of opportunity: [RLC partners with 10,000 Black Interns Foundation ]
Historically, many members have always played a pivotal role in working with charities and community groups. A recent survey showed that over half of RLC members (51%) offer support to charitable and legal charity organisations with 34% having worked with organisations for over 5 years maintaining long standing relationships. Examples include
• Joint Head of Chambers, Gillian Jones KC continues to work with Clean Break Theatre as a developmental board member involved in fundraising and raising awareness for the charity [Clean Break] She is a member of a legal referral panel for The Centre for Women’s Justice [Centre for Women’s Justice] where she also engages in strategy discussions with the charity. Her mentoring work includes the ELBA mentoring programme and the South Eastern Circuit KC mentoring programme.
• For the last 8 years, Tom Forster KC has been serving as a governor of his local state primary school, Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, which is part of a multi Academy Trust – “The Charter School Trust”. As a “link” governor for safeguarding he commented: “My work as a Governor and particularly my role as safeguarding link is highly rewarding. The school is justifiably proud of being rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in its latest inspection – 2023. It offers an inclusive education for a diverse community where every child matters. I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering in their local community to explore a role as governor of their local state school, be that at primary or secondary level.” [Dulwich Hamlet Juniors School]
• Barnaby Jameson KC has been instructed pro bono by McCue Jury in a High Court civil action against the Wagner Group brought by displaced Ukrainian citizens in the UK who fled Ukraine as a result of injury, property damage and terrorism: the Wagner Group, now a proscribed terrorist organisation under UK law: [McCue Law]
• Michelle Nelson KC currently sits as a Trustee on the Young Women’s Trust [Young Women’s Trust]working to secure an equal world of work for young women whether in work or not. She heads the RLC ELBA programme which she is a mentor on and continues work with Shift 25 and corporates to increase diversity in the workplace. The charity has a partnership with UCL to provide internships for school students in Astro Physics and to increase diversity in the STEM field.
• Jenni Dempster KC and Jack Talbot have provided mentoring support, advice and shadowing opportunities for aspiring law students who have been able to watch trials at the Old Bailey.
• Jane Oldfield became a Trustee for Mind in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Redbridge [MITHNR] in January 2020 and continues in that role. MITHNR is a fantastic local charity which provides mental health services to the communities it serves and seeks to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues. As a trustee, she has helped set the strategy for the charity. She plays a role in its governance and provides it with ad hoc assistance on legal issues. In July 2023, she completed the 24 Peaks in 24 Hours Challenge with two other trustees and some friends, including RLC member Emma Gargitter raising around £12.5k in total for the charity. [Mind in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Redbridge]. [ See Picture below]
• Sailesh Mehta continues to advise on a range of legal matters appearing in the Court of Appeal in a manslaughter case representing the Appellant pro bono and advising and representing clients in a variety of regulatory, business and criminal matters. In addition, he also assists the “Help Smile Trust” with legal issues- a charity that uses plastic surgery to help children with cleft lip and palate all over the world: [Help Smile Trust]
• Ex Young Citizens Alumni, Sophie Quinton-Carter continues to mentor through YLAL and Inner Temple with her mentees now completing the end of their programmes with one securing pupillage at RLC in 2024: [Young citizens]
• Valerie Charbit is a trustee of Inclusion London – a charity that supports deaf and disabled people’s organisations [Inclusion London]
• Guy Bowden has been volunteering with IPSEA [Independent Provider of Special Education Advice] which offers free and independent legally based information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities [SEND]. Over the last year Guy has helped families with their tribunal appeals, securing a place for one child at an independent special school, much-needed 1:1 classroom support for another, and additional therapies including speech and language and occupational therapy in another appeal. As well as being part of their Tribunal Support Service, Guy regularly mans the IPSEA Advice Line and Tribunal Helpline. Read more about IPSEA here: [IPSEA].