National award nomination for pro bono partnership between Avon & Bristol Law Centre and students

November 20, 2015

Bristol law students’ work in assisting benefit claimants wrongly declared fit for employment has helped secure a nomination for a national award.

Students from UWE Bristol and the University of Law have been volunteering at the Avon & Bristol Law Centre advising claimants challenging changes made to their disability entitlement.

Their actions have helped win more than £1m in benefits for clients incorrectly judged to be capable of working by the Department for Work and Pensions.

In recognition of its outstanding work, the highly successful collaboration has been nominated for the title Most Effective Pro Bono Partnership at the LawWorks Annual Pro Bono Awards.

The awards recognise and celebrate achievement in legal pro bono work undertaken by organisations and individuals, and the dedication and commitment of the legal sector to positively impact individuals and communities.

Since the project began three years ago, the success rate of appeals made by the students and law centre stands well above the national average at 95%.

The project has helped more than 200 people over the past two years with an average of £5,000 won for each client.

UWE Bristol students have become a familiar sight at Bristol’s Social Security and Child Support Tribunal, where they represent clients at their benefit appeals in front of a judge and doctor. The project recruits the brightest law students to ensure the best results for clients. All the UWE students on the project who graduated this year have received first-class degrees.

UWE pro bono liaison Marcus Keppel-Palmer said: “Recognition by LawWorks in shortlisting the Legal Advocacy Support Project for the 2015 Awards is excellent news for the pro bono commitment that UWE has.

“As a full service law school, we are committed to giving students as many opportunities through extra-curricular activities such as pro bono, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

“Many of our students devote significant amounts of their time to assisting the local community, and we are very proud of the recognition for the link with the Avon & Bristol Law Centre.”

Avon & Bristol Law Centre is a four-strong shortlist for the prize which will be presented next Tuesday. The event will be hosted by legal commentator and journalist Joshua Rozenberg, with an inaugural annual lecture given by director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti CBE.

Andy King of Avon & Bristol Law Centre won the President’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2015 at last month’s Bristol Law Society annual awards in recognition of the centre’s outstanding achievements.

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