Xhesika Leka recently graduated from Oxford University with a law degree and is an aspiring commercial lawyer. Xhesika was a Casework Volunteer with Advocate this year, and she has taken the time to share more about how the volunteering experience has been invaluable in applying and expanding her legal knowledge in practice and why she would recommend the volunteering programme to other aspiring barristers. Xhesika was one of our stand-out volunteers from the last cohort. 

Advocate Blog Photo Xhesika

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I graduated with a law degree from Oxford University in 2023, and after graduating, I secured a training contract with a US law firm, where I aspire to qualify as a commercial lawyer. Whilst volunteering with Advocate, I had the opportunity to explore how the legal modules I had enjoyed studying at university - such as employment law - applied in practice, allowing me to build on my legal knowledge.

Outside of my academic and professional pursuits, I have always been involved with volunteering, as it is something I enjoy doing and I find great fulfilment in giving back to the community. For instance, I currently volunteer as a telephone adviser for Citizens Advice, which involves providing guidance to members of the public on a wide range of issues, including housing, employment, and consumer matters.

2. What attracted you to the Casework Volunteer programme at Advocate?

I was drawn to volunteering at Advocate because of my strong belief that everyone should have access to justice, regardless of their background or financial means. Advocate, as the Bar’s national pro bono charity, plays a crucial role in the justice system by bridging the gap for individuals who cannot access legal aid or afford representation, by connecting them to volunteer barristers.

Advocate has been instrumental in providing free legal assistance to the most vulnerable members of society, across all areas of law, in courts and tribunals throughout England and Wales. Advocate’s mission to ensure access to justice, whilst simultaneously fostering a sense of community responsibility within the legal profession, deeply resonated with me. Therefore, when the Casework Volunteer opportunity arose, I applied as I knew it would be an invaluable way to contribute to Advocate's work.

3. To you, what has been the most valuable part of your role as Casework Volunteer, and was there a particularly memorable experience for you?

As a Casework Volunteer, I worked on cases covering a diverse range of legal areas including employment, contract, and criminal law. I also encountered new fields such as family law, which significantly broadened my legal knowledge, and skills. I enjoyed working closely with my supervisor and connecting with other volunteers at the end of each day to share our experiences and learn from one another. 

A particularly memorable moment was when my supervisor shared with me a heartfelt thank-you message she had received from an applicant whose urgent case had been successfully allocated to a volunteer barrister. It demonstrated to me the real-life impact of our work at Advocate and was incredibly rewarding to see. In total, I worked on fifty-nine different cases, learning something valuable from each one and always mindful of the significant impact our work had on individuals' lives. 

4. What advice would you give to anyone applying for the Casework Volunteer programme at Advocate?

Volunteering with Advocate was an invaluable experience for me, offering exposure to various areas of law and making a tangible impact on people’s lives. I highly encourage you to apply - I found my time at Advocate so enjoyable that I offered to volunteer for a few additional weeks after the programme ended!

You will develop essential skills, such as attention to detail when summarising cases and organisational skills as you manage cases with varying deadlines and priorities. The community of fellow volunteers and caseworkers means you receive constructive feedback and continuous support throughout.

My advice would be to keep an open mind about the areas of law you might enjoy, as you may discover new interests, and to dedicate yourself fully to the experience, as you will find it rewarding, both personally and professionally.

Feel inspired to take part in our Casework Volunteering programme? Find out more and apply to the next cohort.