Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Hundreds of children to benefit from innovative pro bono legal project

Top global law firms Allen & Overy and DLA Piper have teamed up with leading children's legal charity Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) to launch a new collaborative legal project that will help hundreds of children currently without legal support to access their rights.

The project will provide quality, free-of-charge legal representation so that children with a right in law to become British citizens can exercise that right.

The Children’s Pro Bono Legal Service will be led by a solicitor at CCLC, who will supervise volunteer lawyers from the partner firms in undertaking pro bono legal casework. Unlike many other pro bono projects, this ground-breaking new service will offer end-to-end legal representation to children and families so that their cases are seen through to full completion.

Many of the children and families assisted by the project are amongst the most vulnerable in the UK and would otherwise be unable to access any legal assistance in an area of law where no legal aid is available.

Jo Swaney is the expert immigration and nationality solicitor who will lead the project:

'By involving volunteer lawyers from our partner firms we can deliver a much-needed, high-quality service for children who have the legal right to become British citizens. Often children in these circumstances have to rely on piecemeal or no legal support, whereas this model sees their entire case taken on from start to finish.

Securing citizenship offers them stability and the chance to access the same opportunities as other children in the UK.

We hope this project will be an effective showcase for a new model for using pro bono in the provision of legal services.'

Arnondo Chakrabarti, a Litigation Partner from Allen & Overy who is overseeing this project for the firm, comments:

‘Allen & Overy is excited to be part of such an innovative and collaborative project where we are able to use our legal skills to help children access their entitlements as British citizens.’

Adam Cooke, an Intellectual Property Partner at DLA Piper, and Pro Bono Champion for the project, says:

‘Access to justice is one of the key focuses of DLA Piper's UK pro bono programme. I am extremely proud to oversee this project, and believe it will be a unique opportunity for our lawyers to change the lives of disadvantaged children and their families for the better.’

The project has been generously funded for three years by Unbound Philanthropy.

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