From the outset of forming, Libertas Chambers has been committed to undertaking pro bono work. With the removal of legal aid from many sectors and the expense of legal action there is an ever-growing need for pro bono legal support for those unable to afford to pay for lawyers and thus potentially be unable to access justice. It is important and rewarding work for our members, where the skills of our barristers can be put to good use for those who may otherwise be unable to access legal advice and be without legal representation.
Members have been involved in a wide range of pro bono activities with their respective former chambers and that commitment to pro bono work continues at Libertas.
We are a supporter of Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit) and many other pro bono legal providers. We took on our first case with Advocate shortly after we were formed in October 2020.
Individual members provide legal advice to the public through various pro bono legal advice centres such as the South Westminster Legal Advice Centre, as well as through Advocate.
Felicity Gerry QC has been involved in a number of high-profile pro bono projects – taking part in a death penalty study for the Commission on Human Rights for the Philippines, acting for Rohingya victims re genocide reparation issues, continued representation and campaigning in trafficking and FGM work and continued work in the UK on the reform of the Joint Enterprise Law.
Siobhan Grey QC has been a trustee for Inside Justice for many years, the organisation focuses on dealing with miscarriage of justice cases. She is currently involved in working on a project to produce documentaries on appeal cases including the series ‘Conviction’ aimed at raising awareness of the criminal justice system and the importance of appellate work. She is also heavily involved in the Death Penalty Project run by Saul Lehrfreund at Simons Muirhead and Burton and works with them on appeal cases.
Darren Snow was a nominee at the 2018 Bar Pro Bono awards and spent much of the initial Corona Virus lock down undertaking pro bono work with Sports Resolutions advising athletes in UKAD proceedings and providing support to a legal advice centre on criminal law matters.
Marie Spenwyn was recently appointed as a Trustee with the legal charity Transform Justice, is a committee member of the YPA (Youth Practitioners Association) – and works with the Inns of Courts College of Advocacy (ICCA) on projects.
Marie also spearheads work with other members of chambers on an ongoing basis with BPP and their Streetlaw project.
The project aims to bring legal education into various settings including prisons, schools and other community projects. Members of chambers work on developing the content of presentations that are delivered through the project on various topics such as firearms, joint enterprise, ‘gangs’ and knife crime. We also develop and lead training sessions for the BPP students who will deliver the material as to how to maximise their presentation skills and how to deal with what will be on occasion difficult audiences. We are proud of this continuing relationship and the input we are privileged to have into this important area for both wider legal education and for law students in support of their development. Libertas Chambers offers financial support to Streetlaw in the form of a travel fund designed to enable students with limited means to travel to venues.
Many of our members have been speakers at social mobility careers events such as the Urban Lawyers annual legal careers conference, pupillage fairs and in schools, as well as speaking at various panel events with law schools and other organisations. Members are involved in mentoring events with the Kalisher Trust’s education training, the Social Mobility Foundation and other organisations to support those from non-traditional backgrounds considering a career as a lawyer including a recent event with the ICCA focusing on encouraging secondary school pupils to consider the bar – regardless of background. Several of our members have been involved in the Citizen Foundation’s national mock trial competition, mentoring the next generation of advocates from state schools in the competition. Members recently mentored school teams that reached the national finals two years in a row.
We have a number of members of chambers who are experienced advocacy trainers working with their respective inns working with members of the bar and prospective members of the bar (from school age though to new practitioners) on both advocacy training as well as the Inn’s outreach projects and mentoring.
Libertas is interested in working with Universities and Law Schools on pro bono projects where our expertise as criminal and regulatory lawyers may be of benefit and are happy to look at putting together a team to work with you on appropriate projects.
Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the potential for us to work with you on suitable pro bono projects. In the first instance feel free to contact our senior clerk Marc King.
For guidance on accessing pro bono barristers generally see We Are Advocate’s website.