Introducing Kirsty Brimelow QC: International Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2018 and worldwide human rights advocate

Kirsty Brimelow QC

If anyone is to be described as an International Pro Bono Barrister, it is Kirsty Brimelow QC of Doughty Street Chambers. Her tireless pro bono work has touched four continents, spanning from Europe all the way to South America. As Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) for 6 years, Kirsty was recognised in 2018 for her dedication to advancing international human rights, with her pioneering work inspiring other barristers to follow in her footsteps.

“I’ve been working pro bono all my life without realising it”

Kirsty has been on a mission to bring about social justice since day one. From her days as a child gathering petition signatures to ban whaling, to her university days taking deprived inner city kids on holiday, up to her career as a barrister advising charities, working for the BHRC and balancing her busy QC practice, Kirsty’s determination to help the most vulnerable in society has not ceased. 

“I am a much better person as a result of the diversity of the people I meet”

The impressive achievements of Kirsty’s career come down to her dedicating an average of 20-30 hours per week on pro bono. Her commitment to relieving the plight of children around the globe culminated with her moderating a two-day conference at the UN in 2017 on the abuse of children stigmatised as witches and people with albinism. At the same time, Kirsty co-authored a report on child rights and protections on the dismantling of the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp, a report which is still being used today in many UK refugee cases, indicating just how much of a far-reaching impact her work has had.

But Kirsty has not stopped there. Risking her life to undertake a fact-finding mission in Colombia is perhaps her bravest achievement to date. In June 2018, Kirsty trekked to a remote area of San José de Apartadó where members of the community had retreated following an increase in armed activity produced by the power vacuum left by the FARC. Unaccompanied by community leaders, Kirsty conducted a fact-finding exercise on the illegal armed actors and their collaboration with the army. This is just one example of her longstanding pro bono work across the globe; profound achievements have also been made in Greece, Yemen, the Niger Delta region, Iran and Bahrain.

“Social media and the development of the internet highlights global responsibility for people, the environment, the planet. We can no longer say that ‘it isn’t my job’”

Kirsty’s work across the globe shows how pro bono is now needed more than ever before.  With the rise of media coverage on global issues of inequality, we have a collective responsibility to help bring about access to justice for those who need it the most.


The winner of International Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2019 will be presented with their award at the Bar Pro Bono Awards on Wednesday 6th November in Pro Bono Week 2019. Nominations are now open: Enter here!