The Kent Law Clinic at the University of Kent has been declared joint winner of the Best New Student Pro Bono Activity award (for its Public Access to Land Project) at the LawWorks & Attorney General Student Awards 2012.
At a reception at the House of Commons on 27 March the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, presented the award to Clinic solicitor Elaine Sherratt accompanied by Kent Law School (KLS) students Rebecca Newman, Samantha Woodley and Vivian Chan, together with barrister David Graham of Francis Taylor Building chambers in the Temple.
The Public Access to Land Project has helped hundreds of local people win disputed public rights of way along footpaths through the Kent countryside, and helped hundreds more in their ongoing attempts to register treasured local recreation spaces as ‘village greens’ in Whitstable and Wickhambreaux.
In 2010, KLS senior lecturers Donald McGillivray and Nick Jackson developed a new module, Access to Land, which has allowed law students under the supervision of Elaine Sherratt to work on many access to land cases for local residents, several of which have led to lengthy public inquiries. The Clinic has only been able to provide this service with the invaluable pro bono assistance of barristers from Francis Taylor Building, including Richard Honey, Isobel Tafur, David Graham and Ned Westaway. Other KLS students in the team include Jessica Crawford, Adam Demmon, Natasha Roberts, Chris Scutt and Dan Weston.
The Awards judges said: ‘The link between pro bono casework in the Clinic and the taught module on the law relating to access to land allows students to see the law in practice and to put their learning into practice by helping Clinic clients. The project establishes a new collaboration between the students at the Kent Law Clinic and barristers from Francis Taylor Building. This is innovative and important work which deserves to be recognised.’
Elaine Sherratt commented: ‘It was a great thrill to receive the award. The project represents a very fruitful partnership with KLS colleagues and with barristers from Francis Taylor Building acting pro bono, and it provides a badly needed service. The legal and logistical challenges facing local residents seeking to protect their enjoyment of the outdoors are truly formidable, and Clinic students are making a very helpful contribution here.’
Vocalise, a project of the Education Department of Gray’s Inn, was the co-winner for their work with prisoners. The other short-listed projects in this category were: Immigration Tribunal, BPP Law School London; the County Court Advice Desk, BPP Law School London; and the York Law School Clinic, University of York