Life- (and law)-changing stories at the heart of this year’s Bar Pro Bono Awards

The stars of the pro bono world and the incredible stories they embody were celebrated on 6th November at Advocate’s prestigious awards ceremony at Child & Co.

The aim of the awards is to recognise the outstanding contribution of barristers who have fought for justice under extremely difficult circumstances and share the tales that inspired them. This year’s ceremony was held in association with the Bar Council, headline sponsored by Lexis Nexis and hosted by Mr Justice Knowles.

Two winners were recognised and shared the International Pro Bono Barrister of the Year award – Jennifer Robinson and Jelia Sane, both of Doughty Street Chambers. Jennifer was one of only two international lawyers trusted to give specialist pro bono legal advice in relation to the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Istanbul and Jelia is a legal volunteer with Safe Passage, a charity advising asylum seekers on safe and legal routes to international protection and family reunification in the EU.

With migration as a dominant theme, Pro Bono QC of the Year, Anthony Metzer QC was recognised for his years-long dedication to a case involving a Netherlands resident who was refused access to the UK. His success led to several amendments to the law including a change in regulations for unmarried partners of British citizens.

Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year, Shu Shin Luh, worked on a series of cases challenging the cuts to weekly subsistence paid to victims of trafficking. Her efforts went beyond helping those directly affected to securing a reversal of subsistence cuts and even obtaining a life-changing back payment for all affected individuals.

Lord Goldsmith QC, Chairman of the Judging Panel and Founder and President of Advocate said: “The Bar particularly continues to do impressive work at the coal face of pro bono – supporting the most vulnerable in our communities and across the globe. I never fail to be moved reading through the Advocate award applications, and am continually reminded of how proud I am to be part of a profession that does such important work.”

There are eight categories of award in total, with six announced on the night and two at the Bar Conference on 23rd November. Winners were chosen by a star-studded judging panel headed by Lord Goldsmith QC, and including the Lord Chief Justice, Chair of the Bar, Director of the Law Centres Network and the Secret Barrister.

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