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I have wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. My parents had not attended university, and were supportive of my ambitions to study law. They were delighted when I was accepted onto Law and Political Science at a top university in Dublin, and subsequently received a scholarship from the London School of Economics to study for a Masters in Law, focusing on Human Rights.

It has always been important to me to help and support others. I volunteered in local schools and at legal charities while at university and was always able to fulfil these commitments alongside my studies. One of the many reasons I was attracted to A&O was their pro bono and community investment work, which has been at their heart for decades.

As a trainee, I was delighted to have the opportunity to spend the final six months of my traineeship on secondment to the Pro Bono team. I worked alongside the team to develop projects with both new and existing NGO partners and getting involved in some interesting pro bono matters.

During my time with the team, I was very proud to be involved in the establishment of the Greece Pro Bono Collaborative (GPBC) Project, a partnership between A&O, five other law firms and European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL). I was also proud to be the first A&O volunteer to go to Lesvos, Greece as part of this project where I spent two weeks working with ELIL to provide legal support to asylum seekers in Moria Camp. A&O’s involvement in the GPBC demonstrates the firm’s commitment to addressing access to justice gaps both locally and internationally by finding ways that our lawyers can assist.

As an associate in the Litigation team, I spend most of my days working on complex competition law cases. However, our team also uses our considerable litigation skills and experience to act on a pro bono basis for NGOs and individuals in often very interesting judicial review cases. For example, I have acted for Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) on a number of challenges to the UK government’s immigration detention and bail systems.

At A&O, there is always an opportunity to participate in a diverse range of pro bono projects, from social finance and impact investing projects to human rights. Recently, I participated in a sizeable and extremely worthwhile project for the Centre for Reproductive Rights that involved 19 A&O lawyers across the US, UK and Europe researching the legal rights frameworks and accountability mechanisms that existed to vindicate the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of women and girls in ‘conflict zones’ across 14 countries. This was a great opportunity to do some very interesting international legal research and analysis, working with lawyers throughout the A&O global network.

Closer to home, A&O lawyers have also been supporting Toynbee Hall in London for over a decade. In November 2018, along with another trainee, I helped to establish a new partnership with Toynbee Hall, which saw A&O volunteers attend its Saturday morning Women Only Clinic as legal advisers. The clinic provides a safe space for women to get confidential legal advice on issues such as housing, family and employment law. Four A&O volunteers have advised at the clinic on the first Saturday of every month over the last couple of years.

I also work extensively with Coram Children’s Legal Centre as part of the Children’s Pro Bono Legal Service (CPBLS). A&O lawyers, working with trainees, assist children and young people who were born in Britain, but who are not automatically British citizens, to register as British citizens. I have helped a number of children and young people make these applications. With no legal aid in place to support these children, the CPBLS provides an invaluable service. The opportunity to act for children and young people in making their applications is also an excellent way for junior lawyers like me to develop our client care and advocacy skills. With support from four firms, including A&O, the Coram Children’s Legal Centre has helped 151 children gain British citizenship, with a further 79 applications underway.

A&O provides fantastic opportunities for lawyers who want to use their legal skills to give something back. The exposure I have had to such varied cases as a trainee and associate has helped to me develop my own skillset as a lawyer, while allowing me to support the most vulnerable individuals in society. With no shortage of work, A&O offers its people the chance to make an impact in an area that interests them. Whether that is by becoming involved in innovative social finance and impact investment matters, human rights law research projects, children’s advocacy or even acting for individuals in their disability benefit appeals, there is something for everyone!

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