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27 April 2022

Two King's Legal Clinic projects shortlisted at LawWorks Awards

The Dickson Poon School of Law has double the reasons to celebrate with two of its legal clinics shortlisted in the 2022 LawWorks and Attorney General Student Awards.

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Mukono, Uganda: the Human Rights and Environment Clinic has worked on projects in Uganda, India, Serbia, Colombia, the US and UK.

Two King’s Legal Clinic projects have been shortlisted in the Best New Pro Bono category: The Windrush Justice Clinic (WJC) and King’s new Human Rights and Environment (HRE) Clinic. The awards celebrate the best pro bono activities undertaken by law students and law schools and the positive impact on those assisted.

The WJC has also been shortlisted for the Access to Justice Foundation Award, which celebrates the vital importance of the support that free legal advice agencies receive from future legal professionals and their training providers.

We are delighted that the Clinic’s work and the dedication of King’s students has been recognised. The work of the both the HRE Clinic and the WJC tackle important social justice issues both locally and globally utilising a collaborative and interdisciplinary model.

Shaila Pal, Director and supervising solicitor, King's Legal Clinic.

The WJC is a collaborative partnership between King’s Legal Clinic, University of Westminster Legal Advice Clinic, London South Bank University Legal Advice Clinic, North Kensington Law Centre, Southwark Law Centre and community groups Claudia Jones Organisation, The Windrush Compensation Project and The Jigsaw House Society. The WJC was set up and is supervised at King’s Legal Clinic by Shaila Pal.

The WJC strives to help victims of the Windrush scandal receive the compensation they deserve. WJC utilises the strengths of its various partners, offering holistic assistance to victims whilst also engaging in casework, advocacy, research and on-going reform discussions in respect of the Windrush Schemes. A research report on the unmet need for legal advice for Windrush compensation claims will be published in May 2022.

Staff and students from King's Legal Clinic attend a Windrush Justice Clinic project outreach event with colleagues from Southwark Law Centre, October 2021.
Staff and students from King's Legal Clinic attend a Windrush Justice Clinic project outreach event with colleagues from Southwark Law Centre, October 2021.

The Awards recognise the collaborative efforts of the WJC University partners, which includes the delivery of training to students, support with community outreach, triage of cases and preparation, claims on behalf of clients and development of research. King’s Legal Clinic also part funds a solicitor at Southwark Law Centre.

WJC clients are often particularly vulnerable due to the experiences resulting from the injustices done by successive government policies and navigating the complex process to claim compensation can be re-traumatising for them. So far, the WJC has assisted or is currently assisting over one hundred clients to claim compensation from the Home Office.

The impact of the pro bono activity for victims of the scandal has been immeasurable, with one client commenting: ‘When you have had a trauma like the Windrush scandal and all the emotions and problems that can bring, it can be really daunting to then have to find the right words to write. For my mother (her contact with the WJC) was the first time she felt heard and from that healing can come and hope.’

Launching 18 months ago, the King’s Human Rights and Environment (HRE) Clinic is the first of its kind in the UK to bridge the gap between human rights and the growing field of environmental law.

Taking a holistic approach to client needs, the clinic offers initial research through casework and helps individual client’s communities in the UK and abroad affected by social, economic, and environmental issues to navigate legal procedures.

Under the supervision of Sue Willman, King’s Legal Clinic Assistant Director, students work on a range of projects. Clients have ranged from indigenous communities in Colombia, a Guantanamo torture survivor, south Londoners affected by air pollution and a community in Cornwall affected by tin mining.

The King's Human Rights and Environment Legal Clinic was launched in 2020 as an experiment, aiming to bring a more strategic and global element to clinical education in the UK. In the past 18 months, law students have worked on projects in the UK, the US, India, Uganda, Serbia, and Colombia. Being shortlisted is welcome encouragement for the HRE Clinic to continue striving to provide access to environmental justice and human rights.

Sue Willman, Assistant Director and supervising solicitor, King's Legal Clinic

The Clinic recognises that climate change is one of the most significant social justice issues we face, and that its impacts will be felt by the poorest and most vulnerable. The Sundarbans Climate Justice Project is a partnership between the HRE clinic, on oceanographer and the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) Legal Clinic both based in India, and a British barrister. Working within this collaboration, the HRE Clinic is developing a clinical model to address the lack of justice for communities most affected by rising sea levels and climate change.

The Human Rights and Environment Clinic has been looking at climate justice in the Sundarbans region, which spans the India-Bangladesh border.
The Human Rights and Environment Clinic has been looking at climate justice in the Sundarbans region, which spans the India-Bangladesh border.

Ankita Chakravarty, assistant professor and NUJS Legal Aid Society coordinator said: ‘The Sundarbans Climate Justice Project has been an incredible journey of collaboration, cooperation, and resilience. NUJS students have thoroughly enjoyed the brainstorming sessions and interactions with their peers from King’s. The cross-cultural exchanges as well as the establishment of bonds across students from extremely diverse backgrounds is just one of the many great outcomes of this project.’

Award winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the House of Lords on 4 May with the Attorney General, the Rt Hon. Suella Braverman QC MP.

In this story

Shaila  Pal

Director of Clinical Legal Education & Supervising Solicitor

Sue Willman

Assistant Director of King's Legal Clinic and Lecturer in Law (Education)