The Bar showed its outstanding commitment to pro bono with a record-breaking number of nominees celebrated on 4th November at the Bar Pro Bono Awards, Advocate’s prestigious virtual awards ceremony, sponsored by LexisNexis and supported by the Bar Council. 

Using a fantastic networking platform called Hopin, Advocate staff, trustees and invitees logged on before the ceremony for some networking – both in organised sessions and some fun ‘speed networking’, complete with countdown clock.

With over 120 participants taking part in the ceremony online and 60 watching the live YouTube stream, the Awards were a celebration of the phenomenal contribution of barristers who have found time to fight for access to justice under unprecedented circumstances. Read their inspiring stories in our brochure.

Amanda Pinto QC commented that: “It has been a wonderful privilege to read about everyone's extraordinary pro bono work when judging the awards. Congratulations to all! Truly inspiring.”

Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year was won by Doughty Street barrister Zimran Samuel. Horrified by the sharp rise in domestic abuse directly caused by the UK lockdown, Zimran spent 10 weeks of lockdown advising and representing victims of domestic violence with no access to legal assistance. The judges also awarded ‘Highly Commended’ to four of the nominees including Amritpal Bachu, Bojana Asanovic, Sarah Pinder and Sarah Salmon.

This year’s Pro Bono Queen’s Counsel is Ben Collins QC from Old Square Chambers, who also undertook a large amount of pro bono in relation to the pandemic. He led a team of barristers who, when the furlough scheme was first announced, embarked on a huge volume of work raising and pursuing legal challenges on behalf of those excluded from the scheme and from new sick pay provisions. For his outstanding encouragement of all in chambers, Anthony Metzer QC was Highly Commended.

Sangeetha Iengar of Goldsmith Chambers was honoured as winner of the International Pro Bono Barrister of the Year for her remarkable range of work. She is particularly dedicated to helping refugees and spent weeks assisting asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesvos, leading an important partnership between her chambers and non-governmental organisation, Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid.

Pro Bono Chambers of the Year went to Goldsmith Chambers (who also produced five of the nominees) for outstanding encouragement of its members and its partnerships with external organisations. Pro Bono Chambers Professional was awarded to Nick Levett from Outer Temple Chambers for co-ordinating five different pro bono schemes.

Lord Goldsmith QC, founder of Advocate and Chair of the judging panel said: “I have always been utterly impressed by the willingness of the Bar to give help when it is needed most. In this year of pandemic and more difficult circumstances for us all you might have thought barristers’ priorities would be for themselves and their families’ welfare and so pro bono commitment would suffer. Not a bit of it; in the times of greatest need, such as the current pandemic, the Bar steps up to help. It makes me proud to be a part of this generous community.”

Sir Robin Knowles CBE, Chair of Advocate said: “Any member of the public could find they need the law to be there for them. Especially in these times. Each Award nomination is an example of the Bar’s determination to ensure that the law is there for those without means and not just for those with means. Our thanks go to so many members of the profession.”

The winners of the Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement in Pro Bono, the Sydney Elland Goldsmith Award will be announced at the Bar Council Conference on 21st November.