Kent Law Clinic triumphs at The Lawyer Awards
27 June 2014
Kent Law Clinic, the University's pro-bono legal service, has won the Ethical Initiative of the Year award at The Lawyer Awards 2014.
The Clinic secured first place in a category featuring a host of well-known international law firms that included Debevoise & Plimpton, Sidley Austin, DLA Piper, and Slaughter and May.
Announced at the 20th anniversary edition of the Lawyer Awards on 25 June, the award recognises the work carried out by the Clinic's staff and students in its immigration and asylum team. This included supporting individuals with asylum claims, working with refugee support groups such as Kent Refugee Help and Kent Refugee Action Network, and conducting research into the treatment of unaccompanied minors who apply for asylum.
Clinic solicitor Sheona York and research assistant Richard Warren were presented the award by celebrity compere Joanna Lumley. Kent students from the team, who also joined them on stage at London's Grosvenor House Hotel in front of over 1,400 lawyers, were Alex Beresford, Alex Courtnage, Hannah Duddridge, Oliver Hartland, Hannah Lennox, Lucy Nicholls-Belassie, Scott Parmenter and Jacob Podgorski.
Director of Kent Law Clinic Professor John Fitzpatrick said: ‘This award is a richly-deserved tribute to the high quality and wide range of the work carried out by staff and students in the immigration and asylum team in the Law Clinic: on individual cases, working with refugee support groups such as Kent Refugee Help and Kent Refugee Action Network, and in their research work into the treatment of unaccompanied minors who apply for asylum.
Kent Law Clinic is a partnership between students, academics and solicitors and barristers in practice locally. It has two objects: to provide a public service for local people who need legal advice and representation but cannot afford to pay for it, and to enhance the education of students in the Kent Law School through direct experience of legal practice.
The Clinic received international attention earlier this year for a case that secured UK asylum on religious grounds for an Afghan citizen who was an atheist. The case was believed to be the first of its kind. Earlier this month Law Clinic staff launched a research report, How children become 'failed asylum-seekers', highlighting the poor quality legal advice received by young asylum seekers in the UK.
The Clinic has received numerous awards recognising and celebrating its work since its establishment in the early-1970s, including the prestigious LawWorks Attorney General Award in 2012 for the Best New Student Pro Bono Activity (for its Public Access to Land Project) and the LawWorks Attorney General Award for the ‘Best Contribution by a Law School' in 2011. The Clinic was also awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2007, with staff and students from the Clinic collecting the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
More recently, the Clinic was shortlisted for the Halsbury Legal Award for 'Pro Bono Team of the Year' in 2013 and was awarded 'Runner Up' status in the 'Best Contribution by a Law School' category of the LawWorks Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards in April 2014.
Full details of companies that made the shortlist are available on The Lawyer Awards website.