Pro Bono people

How CILEx members are helping other people through their Pro Bono work

Nazmin Akthar

Nazmin AktharThe winner of the 2017 CILEx Pro Bono Award is Chartered Legal Executive, Nazmin Akthar. She is a trustee of the Muslim Women's Network UK (MWNUK), this charity works towards promoting equality and social inclusion of Muslim women. The impact of her pro-bono work has been felt both internally and externally – she has helped the Muslim Women's Network grow as an organisation, helped distressed service users and also helped make changes in wider society. 

Nazmin said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised in this way. I would like to thank CILEx for encouraging all us members to contribute to the wider society through pro bono activities - our potential to make a difference is truly unlimited and it's great to have CILEx supporting us to do so. Charities like Muslim Women's Network UK deal with some of the most vulnerable people in society and I hope other members of our legal community will join me in providing assistance to the likes of them.” 


Cristine Howard 

CILEx Pro Bono Award Winner, Christine Howard Christine Howard, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, received the CILEx Pro Bono Award in 2016. She is a passionate believer in access to justice and since 2005 has dedicated over 2,100 hours which is testament to her longstanding dedication to pro bono. This is despite having an incredible busy day job in a Dispute Resolution Practice. Christine has co-ordinated the rota for the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau for 10 years and is also a Trustee of the organisation. 


Peter King, Partner and Global Co-Chair of the Weil Pro Bono Committee said: “Christine is a true pro bono star, for the last eleven years she has consistently delivered hundreds of hours of free legal advice to deserving charities and individuals with great vigour and passion. She never stops until she gets the result the client deserves.  Christine is also an integral member of our Pro Bono Committee and helps maintain and drive the pro bono culture we have in the office and wider firm.”


Adrian Schwab

Adrian Schwab receiving the Pro bono Award 51-year-old Adrian Schwab, Delay Claims Litigation Manager at TUI UK & Ireland in Luton, received the CILEx Pro Bono Award in 2015 for his lead role in the setting up and now managing the Evening Legal Advice Service in Enfield. In excess of 3,000 people have benefited from free legal advice thanks to Adrian and other volunteer advisers who helped and supported him in setting up the Service.

On winning the award, Adrian said: “This award is a wonderful honour and a privilege for me. I have found pro bono work to be both an extremely rewarding and humbling experience, one which I can truly recommend to others.” 

Chair of the CILEx Pro Bono Trust, Nick Hanning, said: “Once again, the judges had a very difficult task as all the applications were of a very high standard evidencing the widespread commitment of our members to helping those in need. 

He continued: “Adrian Schwab's unstinting commitment to the Evening Advice Service in Enfield stood out though. His efforts over a period of 13 years to maintain the service not just pro bono but at significant personal cost is an inspirational example of someone going 'above and beyond' to maintain access to justice for all.”

Saria Bashir

pro bono award winner v Variation 1

Saria Bashir, partner and Chartered Legal Executive at BHB Law in Coventry, received the CILEx Pro Bono Award in 2014 for her dedication to giving free legal advice to foreign prisoners and members of her community on immigration and human rights matters.

On winning the award, Saria said: “There's the sense of personal achievement in assisting people who cannot access legal services. The most rewarding thing about the whole experience is how satisfying it is to provide a solution for the client.” She continued: “Receiving this award is truly an honour and I am humbled. I cannot express the mixture of emotions I have gone through since learning that I am to receive this award as I have overcome so many hurdles to get to where I am.”

Saria’s portfolio of pro bono work is extensive and has increased since the Legal Aid cuts to immigration were introduced. On a monthly basis, she visits foreign prisoners at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes advising them of their immigration status. She said: “The prisoners have been severely affected by Legal Aid cuts and they have such important factors in their cases which if not argued, will mean they will not receive a fair trial which infringes upon their human rights.”

Chair of the CILEx Pro Bono Trust, Nick Hanning, said: “As ever, the Pro Bono Award was hotly contested by very impressive nominations any of which would have made worthy winners. Miss Bashir stood out on account of her longstanding and varied pro bono immigration advice and representation and especially her prison clinic work. It is very humbling to hear of her dedication and a privilege to be able to show our appreciation of her work. She is a shining example of the very best attributes of CILEx Members.”

Tom Curran, chief executive of Title Research who sponsored the award said: “We are delighted to have been sponsors of the CILEx Pro Bono Award this year and commend Saria for her commitment to justice and access to legal services. Congratulations, Saria.”


Patricia White

Chartered Legal Executive Patricia White, who is part of the JIB Scheme (a joint initiative partnering CILEx members with barristers to provide free legal support), was recognised for her significant efforts in 2012, having only joined the scheme the previous year.

In her short time participating in the scheme, Patricia responded to numerous cases, including for clients who were especially vulnerable and in need of special care. One such case involved supporting parents with severe learning difficulties whose child was taken into care after suffering an accident. With Patricia’s help the parents, who were excluded from the scope of legal aid because of their benefit income, were able to provide witness statements proving it was an accident, and so keep their family together.

Patricia said: “I am feeling rather shocked at receiving the award, as quite simply I share my passion for law and access to justice by giving of my time and support to the unit. I feel it’s vital to help address the balance and ensure that, regardless of financial circumstances, everyone has equal access to legal assistance."


Muid Khan

Muid Khan, Philip Warford, Philip Partridge, Keith EdgarAt our Annual Presidential Luncheon on 31 May 2012, The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) awarded its Pro Bono Medal 2011 to a member who has been described as ‘one of the best human rights lawyers in England and Wales’.

Chartered Legal Executive Muhammed Abdul Muid Khan, who is also a barrister, was presented with a commemorative trophy and certificate, as well as a cheque of £750 which goes to his charity of choice The Prince’s Trust.

Mr Khan is considered by his nominees as a model of excellence for his colleagues and upon winning a landmark immigration case, where he defended the victim free of charge, the Honorable Immigration Judge Mr. Moulden described him in open court as one of the best human rights lawyers of England and Wales.

CILEx Judges were also impressed by how Mr. Khan undertook various cases and still found time to provide free legal advice at his weekly clinic.


Angela Kia

Angela Kia Pro Bono Medal 2011

Chartered Legal Executive lawyer, Angela Kia, has been awarded the 2010 CILEx Pro Bono Medal.

Angela was nominated for the medal by Home Workers Worldwide which, amongst other projects, helps asylum seekers receive free legal advice.

In their nomination for Angela, Home Workers Worldwide said: “It is difficult to overstate what a difference Angela has made to people’s lives. Angela has helped people where they had previously found all doors closed; by offering her time to give free legal advice, she has enabled them to start their lives again.”


Philip Warford

Philip WarfordPhilip Warford, a Brighton Chartered Legal Executive lawyer, was awarded the CILEx 2009 Pro Bono Medal.

Philip was honoured by CILEx in recognition of the outstanding level of work he has undertaken for charities, such as the mental health charity MENCAP and Age Concern over the past year, and for his commitment to raising money for charities and helping individuals with unpaid legal advice.


Tony Dolbear

ILEX 2008 Pro Bono Award Winner -Tony DolbearTony Dolbear, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer with the Bournemouth law firm of Horsey Lightly Fynn, was one of the founder members of the Bournemouth & Poole Pro Bono Service. For the last 20 years, he has given unstinting service as a member of the CILEx Bournemouth Branch Committee, as a mentor to students and as a pro bono advisor to a number of charities.

Tony has been a key member of the team that recognised the need for local voluntary and community groups to have access to legal advice, which led to the creation of Bournemouth and Poole Pro Bono. Since its creation, he has continued to be staunch supporter and key volunteer.

On a personal level as a volunteer, he has acted in a pro bono capacity for a local charity that provides care, support and development to recovering drug addicts as well as a local Community Centre on debt recovery.

In 2008, Tony won the CILEx Pro Bono Medal.


Alison Scammell and Kelly GitsomProm Bono winners 2007

Alison, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer with Brain Sinnott & Co in Kingswood and Kelly, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer with Foster & Partners, also in Kingswood, are Trustees of the local charity ‘Survive’ that offers help and support to survivors of domestic violence in South Gloucestershire and Bristol.

This includes accommodation in refuges, outreach and resettlement support, a dedicated team for children and young people and support and education groups. Combined, these services provide safe housing, practical and emotional support, advocacy, information and onward referral through group and individual settings.

As well as acting as Trustees for the charity, Alison and Kelly provide legal advice and help to women who want to escape from domestic violence. They are also members of the local Domestic Violence Forum, which brings together a number of organisations in the area, including the police and social services to exchange ideas and to ensure a common approach to problem solving and planning in this sensitive area.

Alison says they are just a small part of a dedicated team who are there to help anyone who find themselves in a violent situation at home. “Hundreds of women every day have to suffer at the hands of violent or abusive partners but they don’t have to put up with the situation and help is available. Thankfully, more people are becoming aware of the impact of domestic abuse and the number of adults and children that it affects.”

Alison and Kelly jointly won the 2007 CILEx Pro Bono Medal.


Dawn Slow

Dawn Slow

Dawn, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer, has been involved in community Pro Bono work for more than 10 years, most recently becoming a volunteer at the Leicester Law Centre where she now provides free legal advice at a regular evening surgery. In her day job Dawn deals with personal injury and clinical negligence and specialises in head injuries.

She found that that Leicester been sadly lacking in support groups for children with head injuries and their families, the nearest support group being in Birmingham.

Dawn succeeded in having a Family Support Group launched in Leicester in 2006 through the Child Brain Injury Trust, after researching all the possible charities. Dawn was personally behind the launch event and gathering support for the initiative, and remains actively involved, providing advice to families and acting as secretary to the group.

In 2006, Dawn won the CILEx Pro Bono Medal in recognition of her commitment to community legal work for children with brain injuries.


Faizal Essat

Fizal Eassat

Faizal Essat is a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer specialising in Personal Injury Litigation and Commercial Dispute Resolution at Andersons Solicitors in Nottingham. He is an CILEx Advocate. He has a genuine care and concern in helping others and has extensive experience working with faith and community groups in Leicester. Faizal is recognised in the community for not only providing a quality legal service, but also for demonstrating genuine care and concern in helping others. He also works closely with the media to help raise the profile of projects close to his heart. In 2005, Faizal won the CILEx Pro Bono Medal for his work with the Muslim Burial Council of Leicestershire.


Carol Simmons Carol Simmons

Carol Simmons is committed to helping others. She is involved in assisting those working in one of the most difficult and sensitive legal environments, Iraq.

Carol has been involved in the Middle East for many years and a frequent visitor to Iraq. She assists an organisation connected to UNICEF that runs a Children’s Drop in Centre in a city in Northern Iraq. Iraqi police have been arresting young street children and many are held without legal advice, as children under the age of 18 are not entitled to a defence lawyer.

The concept of the adversarial system is difficult for Iraqis to understand, the UK concept of a care system is new to many and abuse rarely discussed.

The first task has been to understand the legal complexities, find common ground and produce a simple booklet on children’s rights under Iraqi law that can be made available to local police, teachers and social workers and then embark on training Iraqi lawyers, with the aim of growing a stable system to protect children in the area.

Working in a male dominated society, Carol has been remarkably successful in persuading authorities that this work needs to be undertaken. Still in the early stages this projects promises much to help the children of Northern Iraq. Carol was Highly Commended in the 2007 CILEx Pro Bono Medal for her work.


Michael McGhie, Victoria Martin, Doug Chisholm - Bury Law Centre

Three Manchester-based Chartered Legal Executive lawyers have been involved with the Pro Bono Clinic since the opening of the Bury Law Centre in 2006.

At the time the Centre was being proposed the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives was encouraging members in the area to consider pro bono work and all three went along to the original meeting for the Centre to find out more, as they all were interested in getting involved in pro bono work.

They have all found the experience working at the Centre both challenging and uplifting with a wide range of clients and cases where advice is needed. Michael McGhie says,” Feedback received by the Law Centre has been generally positive and what started modestly has continued into a third year with every intention of continuing.”

“There is a solicitor in charge of the Law Centre who's there to provide support each evening although, in my experience, we are left very much to get on with things, asking for advice where necessary.”

All three are very keen to continue their work and the Law Centre is now embarking on further training for advisers in debt, welfare benefits.


Keith Barrett

CILEx Council member and personal injury lawyer, Keith Barrett is a good example of the value that Chartered Legal Executive lawyers can provide to the community through pro bono work.

Keith is an associate director (which is partner level) at the London law firm, Irwin Mitchell. Keith has handled 17 cases referred by the London Bombings Legal Helpline on a pro bono basis, more than any other lawyer, and secured the victims more than £1 million through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

Keith is now lobbying the authority to relax CICA’s two-year limitation rule for those whose claims may only have developed over time – such as people with post-traumatic stress disorder who may have received a payout from the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund, but have since had to leave their jobs because of their condition and may have suffered a loss of earnings.

He says his work for victims of the bombings is a good example of why legal executives are so well placed to offer pro bono work. When his firm Irwin Mitchell signed up to the helpline, they asked him to spearhead the work. ‘The reason I was chosen was because I was a specialist. And I’m a specialist because I’m a Chartered Legal Executive,’ he says.


Paddy Willmer

Paddy Willmer is a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer specialising in family law at Reynolds & Hawkes in Bletchley, near Milton Keynes, a small firm is made up of just three lawyers. Since 2002 he has been a trustee of the Bedfordshire Advocacy Service for Older People, but has had to do it in his own time – at one point trustee meetings were held in the evenings so that he could attend.

All those involved in pro bono attest to the benefits they get out of it personally. ‘I would recommend it,’ says Paddy Willmer. ‘There are lots of little charities all over the place and they’re struggling for trustees. On a personal level, it’s very rewarding.’