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

I don’t think there has been a time in my career when I haven’t done pro bono work. My first major pro bono contribution was as a capital punishment intern in Mississippi though Amicus after I finished university. My commitment to that work has continued to date. 

I’ve also been a volunteer lawyer with the UK Gay and Lesbian Immigration Group for the last six years.

Throughout the course of my practice I have taken pro bono work from the outset or continued to work on a case pro bono due to a client running out of funds.

I’ve volunteered with Advocate more recently reviewing applications for assistance and taking on cases.

Why did you decide to undertake pro bono work?

I come from a working class background and I readily understand the financial restraint regular people face every day. Needing a lawyer tends to come at a time of crisis and so not being able to afford one just compounds the stress and anxiety. I have the knowledge and skills that can truly change the lives of some of the most vulnerable people. I don’t believe that justice is reserved for the wealthy and I couldn’t withhold that from people who desperately need it just because they can’t afford to pay me.

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

I recently represented a young man from Eritrea in his asylum appeal. It was a difficult case factually and legally, which was further complicated by his young age and mental health issues. I met with him and his support worker several times and prepared the evidence in his case and represented him at his appeal. He is now a recognised refugee.

What effect did pro bono work have on your career?

This job can be very demanding but I gain energy from helping people and it spurs me on.

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

I can sleep at night! Knowing that you didn’t turn a blind eye gives you a feeling of being part of something greater and a force for good.

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

Now, more than ever, the public needs us to do our duty and fearlessly represent and protect their interests when the rule of law is threatened and our profession and what we do is under attack. There is a wide variety of cases and many are easy for us to incorporate into our practice with little effort but the impact on the person receiving that help is massive. 

Go on, be a do-gooder.