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Pro Bono Ambassador and Advocate panel member, Dr S Chelvan, tells us all about his experience of pro bono

 

To celebrate Volunteers' Week, we spoke to some of our fantastic Pro Bono Ambassadors about what drives them to do pro bono work. These are the barristers who not only dedicate a generous amount of time and expertise to fighting access to justice, but encourage others in their chambers to do the same. We couldn't do the work we do without our volunteers - the whole Advocate team is incredibly grateful for their support.

Our ambassadors take us through their experience of pro bono throughout their career, from their very first case to their most memorable, as well as lessons they have learned and advice for any lawyers out there who are sat on the pro bono fence. Read on to see what Dr S Chelvan has to say.

 

S Chelvan

This is why #ChelvanDoesProBono

 

At what stage in your career did you take on your first pro bono case?

 

From my second-six months in pupillage in 2000 - instructed by Bail for Immigration Detainees for bail applications for migrants detained in immigration detention.

 

Why did you decide to undertake pro bono work?

 

Every single one of us should have a right to legal representation - especially where life and liberty are at stake.

 

What was the most memorable case you worked on, and what did you do?

 

The impact of a simple 'thank you' from a client who has previously been let down and isolated by others make my cases most memorable - highlighting why it is so important to be change-makers.

 

What effect did pro bono work have on your career?

 

Pro bono work fills the void created by politicians as a consequence of funding cuts and structural barriers to legal aid and access to justice.

 

What is the most rewarding thing about doing pro bono work?

 

Pro bono work underpins why I became a Barrister - 'to be the mouthpiece for those who know the words - but have no voice'.

 

What advice would you give to any barrister unsure about whether to start doing pro bono work?

 

Your first pro bono case is the start of a life long journey where you provide the sword and shield to those who rely on you to provide advice, clarity and solutions.

 

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