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Law Clinic Inquest Service shortlisted for Best New Pro Bono Activity Award

Press release issued: 14 May 2020

The University of Bristol Law Clinic were the runners-up for ‘Best New Pro Bono Activity Award’ in the prestigious LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2020 for their pioneering inquest service, launched in November 2019.

Yesterday, 13 March, LawWorks, the Solicitors Pro Bono Group, announced the winners of the LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards, which “celebrate the best pro bono activities undertaken by law students and law schools and the positive impact on those assisted.”

Runners-up in the category for ‘Best New Pro Bono Activity’, the University of Bristol Law Clinic Inquest Team consists of six students who have launched a service to support those who are unable to access legal representation in the face of an investigation into their loved one’s death.

The Inquest Team offers a full range of support through the coronial process from advice on the process itself, reviewing statements, suggesting questions for witnesses and even advocating on behalf of clients. This is the only law clinic able to provide a dedicated service supporting bereaved families in this way. 

Matt Bennett, MA in Law student and member of the Law Clinic’s Inquest Team, spoke to us about the service it provides.

“Inquests can be very confusing to families because there is very little legal aid available and they often find themselves in the middle of this process, just trying to find answers but up against experienced barristers and solicitors representing those authorities.

It's not always obvious to see the impact in people's lives but many times clients have told me how grateful they are, that even just small pieces of advice that someone has been there to show them how to do something because law is complicated, it’s confusing and frankly a lot of people don't have the time to commit to finding the answers whereas as law students, we might not be professional lawyers yet but we at least have an opportunity to understand how the process of researching different laws and problems works, which is why we're better placed to advise them.”

For a full interview with Matt read our Q&A and watch his short video here.

Due to ongoing social distancing measures an Awards ceremony was not held, but a thank you event will take place later in the year.

In a video message, the Attorney General The Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP said:

“It is a delight to mark the contribution of so many of you to our justice system. Pro Bono reflects the best of our profession and I’m delighted to see so many, who are at the beginning of their training, so enthusiastic about pro bono. It’s great to see so many innovative and diverse projects which are part of these awards…on behalf of the Government I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you.”

Read the full LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Awards press release here.

Further information

The University of Bristol Law Clinic provides students with an opportunity to gain a real-life experience of law, offering free legal advice and support to members of the public under the supervision of Law School staff. 

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