Old Bailey statue of Justice

Pro Bono Matters

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LSE Pro Bono Matters is a postgraduate group that volunteers to work for social justice using the law with the aim of improving access to justice, protecting human rights and furthering public interest causes. The student organisation was founded by Master of Laws (LLM) students in the 2014-15 academic year and is led by an LLM Student Director, a PhD Representative and the LSE Law School's Pro Bono Coordinators.

The LSE Pro Bono Matters group consists of LLM and other LSE Masters students who volunteer to assist internal and external organisations and practitioners on: human rights cases and international strategic litigation; producing legal submissions; writing reports for non-profit organisations; and conducting research in the public interest. In addition to this, LSE Pro Bono Matters also holds events throughout the academic year to raise awareness for particular issues and for careers in human rights and other areas of law.

See also our newsletter for Lent Term 2021.
 

Contact our team

LSE Law School Pro Bono Coordinators
Dr Niamh Dunne (Associate Professor of Law)
Dr Emmanuel Voyiakis (Associate Professor of Law)
Dr Insa Koch (Assistant Professor of Law and Anthropology)

PhD Representative
Shree Agnihotri (PhD Student in Law, s.agnihotri1@lse.ac.uk)

Student Director
Callum Shepherd (c.shepherd1@lse.ac.uk)

Vice Student Director/Treasurer
Uttanshi Agarwal (u.agarwal8@lse.ac.uk)

Secretary
Natalya Ying (n.lo-jia-ying@lse.ac.uk)

Events Coordinator
Alice Norga (a.norga@lse.ac.uk)

Communications and Media Officer
Christiana Verdeli  (c.verdeli@lse.ac.uk)

Contact us
law.probonomatters@lse.ac.uk; or email any of the committee members directly.

Or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn 

Meet the Team

Student Director - Callum Shepherd

'I developed a sincere passion for pro bono whilst running a commercial law pro bono clinic during my undergraduate degree, allowing me to witness first-hand the impact that students can make. With an interest in egalitarian projects consequent to my time spent managing a charity, I hope to expand the range of interest groups helped by Pro Bono Matters and ensure our organisation continues in its immensely valuable research contributions.'

Vice Student Director - Uttanshi Agarwal

 'My passion towards enhancing access to justice for all is shaped by my time offering pro bono legal and mental health services to survivors of gender-based violence at One Future Collective, a social justice oriented, not for profit based in India. Through Pro Bono Matters, I wish to continue building an ecosystem where all individuals receive justice that is inclusive, affordable and accessible.'

Secretary - Natalya Ying

'My interest in Pro Bono Matters is fuelled by my desire to have positive social impact by opening further access to justice. Also, to contribute the skills I developed undertaking methodical, community-focused work at law firms. I recognised the importance of creating opportunities for the public to interact with the legal system because commercial law firms require high barriers to entry and realised people often do not have the medium to explore legal matters'

Events Coordinator - Alice Norga

'I am firmly committed to the cause of social justice, specifically in so far as it intersects with legal issues. Indeed, my academic interest in human rights is complemented by a desire to promote justice in practice, which I have pursued by undertaking work experience in non-profit organisations. As I find furthering public interest causes rewarding, I am motivated to become a part of LSE Pro Bono Matters.'

Communications and Media Officer – Christiana Verdeli 

'I strongly believe that everyone should have the right to legal representation, including people unable to afford it or otherwise unable to access it. Thus, I decided to get involved with Pro Bono Matters to gain more knowledge on the subject of giving back to the public, support the wider community of volunteers, as well as contribute my skills to organisations that make a difference with their research initiatives.'

2020/2021 Research Projects

Below you can find out about some of our research projects from this year

1.  British Institute for Comparative Law (BIICL)

BIICL is one of the leading independent research centres for international and comparative law in the world.

LSE Pro Bono Matters has worked with BIICL on two research projects: one focusing on anti-trafficking law and policy (the JTIP Project) and one focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on international commercial dispute resolution.

2. The Prison Reform Trust and Howard League

The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) an independent UK charity working to create a just, humane and effective penal system. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK.

LSE Pro Bono Matters volunteers are working with these two charities on casework analyses focusing on decisions of the UK Parole Board and court proceedings relating to prisoners’ rights.

3.  Restorative Justice For All

RJ4ALL an international institute with a mission to advance community cohesion and human Rights.

LSE Pro Bono Matters is working with RJ4All on a rapid evidence review on cyberbullying of LGBTQ+ young people in the UK and the legal response to it.

4. Reprieve

Reprieve is a legal action non-governmental organisation (NGO) which defends marginalised people who are facing human rights abuses, often at the hands of powerful governments.

LSE Pro Bono Matters is assisting on Reprieve’s cutting-edge Stop Aid For Executions project through researching comparative approaches across different jurisdictions towards ensuring that aid does not contribute to the imposition of death penalties overseas.

5.  Somers Town Legal Advice Center (SIAC)

The Somers Town Legal Advice Centre provides free legal advice to residents of Somers Town and St Pancras. LSE Pro Bono Matters helped STLAC recruit two advice volunteers from the LSE student body. The volunteers will assist in casework, drafting, client care and legal administration in support of the STLAC’s vital work in the local community.

6. UKFPC iSea

iSea is the UK's first national support centre for Southeast and East Asian Communities, combatting hate crime, promoting community outreach, elderly care, resource aid & sharing, language support etc.

LSE Pro Bono Matters is helping iSea to recruit two students to participate in the research project on tackling hate crime, particularly it's resurgence in light of the pandemic.

Events

1.   Docu-Screening Event: "The Empire"

  • Featuring a discussion on Imperialism with Dr Taylor Sherman and Professor Thomas Poole
  • We explored the theme of : 'Empire, Colonisation and Globalisation'. Tracing the complex story of the British Empire, our Committee aimed to explore how the impacts of colonisation continue to be felt in the global realpolitik and beyond.
  • To do this, we screened the episode, Doing Good, from the BBC Documentary series 'Empire', providing a space for critical discourse centred around these themes. Addressing how Britain's desire for conquest was cloaked as a mission to improve the rest of mankind, Dr. Taylor Sherman and Professor Tom Poole focused on the history of British imperialism and the popular narrative in Britain surrounding the British Empire as well as the construction of new nation-states in the shadow of Western imperialism. The panelists explored what imperialism looks like in the global realpolitik through a discussion on the white man's burden of "grooming" the colonised. Discussing how imperialism interacted with constitutional development in the past, they addressed the question of whether, and how, it interacts with constitutional orders today.

Panelists:

Dr. Taylor Sherman (Lecturer, International History, LSE): Dr. Sherman's research interest lies broadly within Empire, Colonialism and Globalisation. Dealing with the cultural and political history of countries in transition such as India and Pakistan, Dr. Sherman discussed the impacts of colonisation felt in these countries even in modern times.

Prof. Thomas Poole (Professor of Law, LSE): Professor Poole's research interests lies broadly in the area of UK constitutional and administrative law as well as legal and political theory. Talking about his books Reason of State: Law, Prerogative, Empire and The Double-Facing Constitution, Professor Poole discussed the insights that can be gained on the functioning of imperialism from the history of constitutional thought.

2.  Arendt, Nation Building and Collective Guilt: "The Wave"

  • Featuring a panel discussion with Professor Gerry Simpson and Dr. Ayça Çubukçu.
  • The focus was on the formation of certain types of government, and on the relationship between violence, intimidation and similar forms of violations of human rights and the "exterior", often imperialistic, elements in nation building.
  • Screening 'The Wave', a film that follows a social experiment conducted by a high school teacher where he turns his classroom into a Nazi-style dictatorship, we hope to provide a space for critical discourse centered around these themes.
  • The panelists explored the social and political landscape in which such nation-building is possible and the idea of a manufactured 'enemy' and 'sovereign'. Discussing how these systems once constructed could take their own shape, they answered the question of individual responsibility and collective guilt.

Panelists:

Dr. Ayça Çubukçu (Co-Director of LSE Human Rights, Department of Sociology): Dr. Çubukçu's research interest lies in social, political and legal theory, with a focus on human rights, political violence, postcolonial studies, and transnational social movements. Dealing with the politics of transnational solidarity and the  entanglement of international law and human rights ideals with the ethics and politics of violence, Dr.Çubukçu discussed how these governments are formed and take account of their impact.

Prof. Gerry Simpson (Professor of Public International Law, LSE): Professor Simpson's research interests lies in the area of international law and war crimes. Taking a critical approach to these issues, Professor Simpson discussed nation-building and the creation of an outsider or 'enemy' and an inviolable sovereign. Taking account of the atrocities committed, he addressed the question of responsibility and guilt.