Monika Sobiecki wins the 2014 Bar Pro Bono Award

8 November 2014

The Sydney Elland Goldsmith Bar Pro Bono Award, given to an individual barrister, group of barristers, or set of chambers in recognition of outstanding commitment to pro bono work, has been won this year by Monika Sobiecki of Pump Court Chambers.

Monika was recognised for two separate acts of pro bono work, first for setting up an innovative legal advice clinic at the Hackney Winter Night Shelter that provides free legal advice on housing, immigration, welfare benefits and family law to a small proportion of some of the most destitute members of society; and for volunteering her services through the Employment Lawyers Association '100 Days Project' to represent a vulnerable client in a complex ten-day disability discrimination case against a well-known retail brand.

David Malone of 18 Red Lion Chambers received a special mention from the judging panel after being nominated by Eve Thomas, a former pro bono client, for 12 months of work she described as 'Herculean'.

A year ago Eve, a survivor of domestic violence, was being threatened with contempt of court for refusing to reveal her 'safe address', fearing her abusive ex-husband would obtain this information. Coining the phrase "Eve's Law," David and Eve launched a national campaign to ensure that the safe addresses, and the confidential details of victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, were protected by the courts and other agencies.

Chairman of the Bar Council, Nicholas Lavender QC, said:

"Monika has not only done an outstanding amount of pro bono work for her clients, she has also showed great initiative in setting up an advice centre which has been an inspiration for others.  Her activities are in the very best traditions of the Bar."

Chairman of the Bar Pro Bono Award judging panel, and Bar Pro Bono Unit President Lord Goldsmith, said:

"Not content with taking on the longest hearing for which a pro bono volunteer has been found through the ELA's 100 Days scheme, Monika also devised and set up an innovative pro bono clinic the Hackney Winter Night Shelter to help some of the most vulnerable people in London. Both are significant undertakings in any circumstance, let alone on a pro bono basis.

"David Malone's tireless efforts on the Eve's Law campaign make him a worthy runner up for recognising that his pro bono work could go beyond a single case, and instead be used to influence a change in the law, protecting all victims of domestic violence and abuse in the process."

In deciding the winner, the judges took into consideration the commitment of time by the barrister or chambers; the importance of the assistance given; innovation, inspiration or example in the work undertaken; and commitment to the pro bono ethic.

The award was presented formally by Chairman of the Bar Council, Nicholas Lavender QC, at the 2014 Annual Bar Conference, held on 8 November at the Westminster Park Plaza.

Other nominees in 2014 were:

  • Michael Beloff QC of Blackstone Chambers and Robert Pearce QC of Radcliffe Chambers
  • Jonathan Manning of Arden Chambers
  • Chris Milsom of Cloisters
  • Mark Stephens of Hardwicke Chambers, and
  • Emily Wilsdon of Temple Garden Chambers.


Notes to Editors

1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and

2. The  Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.