Pro Bono Stories and Stars

Winners of the Bar Pro Bono Awards 2018

Tanya Murshed wins the 2017 Bar Pro Bono Award

Kirsty Brimelow QC awarded Special Commendation for contribution to Human Rights Issues Bar Pro Bono Awards 2017

John Collins wins the 2016 Bar Pro Bono Award

Nine Chambers Recognised for Charity

Journalist thanks Pro Bono Lawyers

Lawyer who helped end death row in Belize picks up 2015 Bar Pro Bono Unit Award

Twelve Chambers Recognised for Charity

Monika Sobiecki wins the 2014 Bar Pro Bono Award

Sarah Hannett wins the 2013 Bar Pro Bono Award


Members of the Pro Bono Committee explain below why they do pro bono and share their experiences. We want to hear more stories from the Bar and those the Bar have helped on a pro bono basis. Email your pro bono stories to

Samantha Singer, Queen Elizabeth Building

I have been involved in piloting and establishing a precursor to the Central Family Court's duty barrister pro bono scheme. My pro bono work began with a Free Representation Unit (Employment Tribunal) trial over a decade ago. Since then I have undertaken extensive family law pro bono work including via the Bar Pro Bono Unit, the Central Family Court's (various) schemes and more informally when appropriate cases present in my practice. I am committed to promoting and furthering the significant value of the Bar's pro bono work and its contribution to the justice system. I am also an elected member of the Family Law Bar Association. 

Toby Brown, Barrister at South Square

I have volunteered with CLIPS and Court 37 schemes, and have advised charities pro bono. I am also a trustee of the Access to Justice Foundation and have assisted in the creation of pro bono charities such as the National Pro Bono Centre and initiatives such as the CJC Working Party on LIPS. In addition, I once spent two weeks volunteering as a caseworker at the Bar Pro Bono Unit. I am a member of the National Pro Bono Week Organising Committee and the Attorney General's Domestic Pro Bono Coordinating Committee and have been involved in some international initiatives, such as the Commonwealth Pro Bono Toolkit, and the African Prisons Project (an NGO that works in prisons in East Africa). 

Sarah Phillimore, St John's Chambers

I am on call to provide email advice and signpost information via a Bradford-on-Avon 'Hub' (near where I live) on one occasion this led me to representing a father in court as pro bono direct access counsel. For the past two years I have also been running the Child Protection Resource which provides information/signposting and general advice. I am also trustee and founder member of The Transparency Project which aims to promote general understanding of the family courts. I aim to do at least 10 hours per year for the Bar Pro Bono Unit and recently underwent their reviewer training. I am one of the organisers of the Family Court Information site and am one of the organisers of the Bristol CJC Duty Lawyer Scheme which started in November 2015.

I am also involved in the Bristol Pro Bono Network which was set up at the end of 2015 which aims to identify local pro bono providers and how best to use the energies of individuals who want to help. For me, the advantages of pro bono work are obvious, both selfishly and altruistically - it has exposed me to work I would not ordinarily be instructed to do and clients are very appreciative. For example, last year I represented a mother seeking permission to relocate to South Africa who was living in a refuge for nine months with 3 small children; it is very hard to see how she could have done this on her own. I was successful in getting permission for her to relocate.

I also represented a family member in Court of Protection proceedings; the level of acrimony between family members had been heightened by poor management/intervention by the LA and again, it was difficult for me to see how things could possibly have moved on without representation for the family member who simply could not have coped on her own.