Matthew Todd Completes the Pro Bono Pledge for Pupils
You signed up for the ‘Pro Bono Pledge for Pupils’ registering to undertake a pro bono case in your second six! How did you first hear about the Pupil Pledge scheme and why did you choose to get involved?
I learned about the Pupil Pledge on Advocate’s LinkedIn page. Advocate is a pro bono charity that helps find free legal assistance from Barristers for individuals who are not covered by public funding and cannot afford to pay.
Pro bono help is the last resort for people who need but cannot access legal representation, so it is always something I was going to do as I consider it very important. I pledged to take on and complete one piece of pro bono work during my second six of pupillage as I thought it would be good for expanding my practice.
But you completed two cases! Were you assigned them, or did you select them yourself?
After completing your first six you can sign up to Advocate’s website, which lists all the possible cases. You can filter by practice area and geographical location, so I simply applied these filters, chose cases I thought sounded interesting and then sent off an email asking to get involved.
What did you do for your first pro bono case?
It was an Employment Law case with a complex Personal Injury element. The claimant was working with a disability, a degenerative spine condition, but their employer didn’t make reasonable adjustments for them. The employer’s failure to get the proper equipment to help her adjust while she was working from home made her condition worse.
Without a chair and a desk supplied for her to use, she was using cushions to prop up her laptop, working from home on the sofa. This led to neck and back problems which caused her significant pain and made it a struggle to move about the house.
I managed to get a settlement and a resolution that was pretty much the best-case outcome for the client! The employer admitted to not making adjustments, she got a settlement figure and didn’t have to go to the employment tribunal.
What did you do for your second pro bono case?
In the second case that I took on as a part of my Pupil Pledge, I was advising a Trainee Solicitor who had alleged that their training contract was terminated prematurely due to whistleblowing. In this case, I gave some advice before the preliminary hearing detailing what she should be asking for, and how she might want to proceed, which she was then able to apply in the hearing.
What have you learned from the ‘Pro Bono Pledge for Pupils’?
The main thing I took away from the pro bono work I completed during my second six at Kenworthy’s Chambers is just how much value you can add to a case just by giving a little time for free.
You can get more involved in people’s cases doing pro bono work than you perhaps might be able to if you were charging and strictly measuring billable time.
How has the ‘Pro Bono Pledge for Pupils’ been rewarding?
It has been great working with some Barristers outside of Kenworthy’s Chambers for these cases.
When the charity Advocate gets a case, Senior Barristers review them to see if it is appropriate for Advocate to list on the website and you can then seek advice from these Senior Barristers to help with the case. It can really help expand your network as a junior Barrister.
I’d also say it has been good for exposure with Advocate and Kenworthy’s Chambers celebrating the pro bono work I completed.
Lastly, would you recommend the Pro Bono Pledge for Pupils?
Yes, because it is personally fulfilling, you feel like you have made a difference to an individual’s case who might have struggled on their own.
Plus, pro bono work gives you an opportunity to take your practice in a different direction. You can expand your horizons by growing your network and by working on cases that fall under new practice areas that you’d like to try.
Want to read more about what the first six months of pupillage were like for Matthew? He spoke with Bruce to provide a peak behind the curtain, describing his experience undertaking pupillage at Kenworthy’s Chambers in A Conversation about Pupillage with Trainee Barrister Matthew Todd.
To check the availability of Pupil Barrister Matthew Todd for your Employment Law case call our Employment Clerk Ella Edwards on 0161 832 4036, email [email protected], or fill out our contact form.