Volunteer Success Stories

One of GMLC’s goals is to encourage and support the future generation of social welfare lawyers. Volunteers are the backbone of the law centre, and we are pleased to hear it when they gain from the experience of working with us.

We are thrilled to announce that two of our volunteers, Ciara Bartlam and Nick Lee, have secured pupillage. Pupillage is highly competitive final stage of training for barristers.

Ciara and Nick have been volunteering with us since September 2016, as part of the Legal Advocacy Support Project [LASP]. They represent clients at appeal hearings, who are due to have their Employment and Support Allowance reduced by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Ciara and Nick, GMLC Volunteers

Ciara’s pupillage is with Garden Court North (GCN) Chambers, which undertakes publicly funded work with a focus on criminal defence and civil rights.

“In terms of how LASP helped me during the process, it was useful to be able to write in my application that I was managing casework, advising clients and representing them in court, especially since there are not many pro bono schemes in Manchester that offer the same opportunity to students… I suppose what did help during the advocacy exercise at GCN was the research skills I had gained by that point and the confidence in my ability to understand unfamiliar areas of law“.

Nick will start a criminal pupillage at Guildhall Chambers in Bristol.

Working at LASP was really helpful during the pupillage interview process. Although the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) allows you to develop your skills in a safe environment, you do not really learn to advise vulnerable clients with complicated problems. Thanks to my work at GMLC, I could cite several examples of working with clients from across the social spectrum who were looking to me for guidance and reassurance… The Tribunals test your oral and written advocacy in a different way to the BPTC (the main difference being the pressure of having your client sat next to you!) and give you a taste of being in practice. In addition, working at LASP demonstrated that I care enough about access to justice to volunteer my time, which gave sincerity to my pupillage applications.

It’s fair to say that getting involved with LASP was the best thing I did during the BPTC. Not only did it strengthen my pupillage applications, but the work is hugely rewarding and GMLC is full of friendly and inspiring colleagues… In that sense, LASP confirmed that I have chosen the right profession

GMLC’s LASP students have successfully won a reversal of the Department’s decision in four out of four cases, meaning the clients will continue to receive their benefits.

Interested in volunteering for GMLC? Find out more and download our application forms here.