After over six years at the Bar Pro Bono Unit I will be leaving later this month in order to take up a trainee solicitor role at Stone King LLP.
I joined the Unit as a part-time caseworker in August 2010. I was just four months into maternity leave with my second child but couldn’t resist applying for what looked like such an interesting and varied job. Fortunately I was right; the work was challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and I couldn’t have hoped for a more diverse caseload.
The demanding aspects of the role – not being to help everyone who applied, dealing with distressed applicants, and realising the terrifying extent of unmet legal need - were tempered by the joy of working in a team of truly wonderful colleagues, with the irrepressibly good humoured Becks Wilkie at the helm. While there was real satisfaction to be gained in assisting those with meritorious cases to access legal advice, my time as a caseworker also taught me the immense value to some applicants in carefully put negative advice, particularly when this was made available early on in the legal process. A belief in the importance of this early access to advice, be it positive or negative, is something I will carry forwards with me in to the next stages of my career.
After time off following the birth of my third child, I returned to the Unit at the beginning of 2013 to manage its Bar in the Community project. It has been wonderful over the last couple of years to see the incredible willingness of the Bar to give back via charity trusteeships, involvement in education and debating projects, and most recently a new advice sector mentoring project.
My time at the Unit would not have been possible had it not been for the trustees’ and my colleagues’ ongoing support of part time and flexible working. This has been invaluable whilst contending with three small children and I could not be more grateful. My thanks also to Becks, (and more recently to Jess Campbell) for their leadership and friendship, and to Sir Robin Knowles QC; CBE (Unit Chairman) whose boundless knowledge and energy have been, and continue to be, a fantastic inspiration.
Finally, my thanks to all those who volunteer for the Unit and for BIC, without whom nothing would be possible.