As part of our Pro Bono Legal Advocacy Support Project (LASP) students from the Manchester Law School represent clients at appeal hearings who are due to have their Employment and Support Allowance reduced by the Department of Work and Pensions.
The project affords students with a unique opportunity to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have acquired during their studies and have been able to represent clients prior to becoming qualified.
We are pleased to announce that we are finalists in the “Best Contribution by a Team of Students” category of the LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards.
Our team of 16 students are shortlisted for their work in helping vulnerable people achieve access to justice and increased financial security, in light of the growing impact of welfare reform changes.
Between January 2017 and March 2018 the team has taken 90 clients to tribunal, winning 52 of the cases and recovering in excess of £80,000 for clients.
Read Manchester Metropolitan University’s coverage here.
A comprehensive service and valuable experience
“In the majority of pro bono work that law students can do, they don’t actually get to represent clients in court or tribunals but rather mainly conduct interviews and research. On this project, students spend many hours on the client’s case, do all the preparation, liaise with the client and then take the case to the tribunal, representing them in person before a judge.
Legal aid for these types of cases has been withdrawn and so clients would normally have had to represent themselves, some may not be able to do this properly, and without the help of our students, it is likely many more would simply have to live with the wrong decision.” – Emma Goodwin, Pro Bono Director at Manchester Law School
Theory into practice
Team member and postgraduate student Samantha Maher has also been announced as a finalist in the “Best Contribution by an Individual Student” category.
Samantha is shortlisted in recognition of her ongoing commitment to the newly formed project , being the first to represent at a Tribunal and the first to achieve a success for a client.
Last year, we reported on Sam’s 100% success rate, as well as the success of other students on the scheme.
“Being part of the LASP scheme at Greater Manchester Law Centre has been an amazing experience, which has enabled me to put theory into practice almost immediately, by taking on work that really makes a difference to people at a very difficult time in their lives. Getting to do all aspects of the case from meeting clients, to legal research to appearing at a tribunal means you get to know a case and the client.
I was so nervous the day before the tribunal, I knew that either way the decision would have a massive impact on my client’s life and I wanted to be sure that I had done everything possible to ensure a good outcome for her. When we found out we had won the case, I almost burst into tears.” – Samantha Mayer, LASP student
I was shown compassion
“The support and assistance that I received from Sam Maher and the team gave me reassurance and made me feel like a real person. When I contacted the Law Centre I was at the lowest I had ever been due to my health deteriorating and financial stress. I was shown compassion and Sam completed all the relevant paperwork and put my case together, taking more strain off my shoulders. Without them I would not have known where to turn or how to move forward with my tribunal. It is an absolutely amazing service.” – Samantha’s client, Jannah Murphy
Celebrating the work of students
The award winners will be announced at a ceremony at the House of Commons on Wednesday 25th April. The Attorney General, The Rt. Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP, will be presenting the awards and the ceremony will be hosted by His Honour Sir Robin Knowles CBE.
The LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards celebrate the best pro bono activities undertaken by law students and law schools.
“These awards are an opportunity to celebrate the work of students who help increase access to justice in their communities. Early experience of pro bono can instil a passion and commitment that can last a whole career. Pro bono not only has a practical and beneficial impact on people’s lives; it has a positive effect on our legal system as well.” – The Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP, The Attorney General
The next generation of social welfare lawyers
At GMLC, we are committed to supporting the next generation of social welfare lawyers. On 20th April, we will discuss the current state of Legal Aid, the impact of the political changes, the challenges faced by the next generation of social welfare lawyers and our hope for the future. Join us by reserving a ticket here.