Faegre Baker Daniels LLP was recognised as part of the winning pro bono team at the inaugural Halsbury Legal Awards on May 8, 2013. The Pro Bono Team of the Year award was presented for the Dalston Advisory Pop-Up Clinic, a partnership between Faegre Baker Daniels, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, BPP Law School and Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC).
The clinic was established as a pilot in 2012 in response to the increasing demand for advice at HCLC. The project is a team effort, led by Rebecca Greenhalgh, pro bono manager at Debevoise & Plimpton, and supported by lawyers from both Debevoise and Faegre Baker Daniels and students at BPP Law School.
Local members of the Hackney community with consumer and basic debt queries are referred to an advice line staffed by BPP students, with initial triaging interviews carried out by phone. If suitable, callers are then booked into sessions with volunteer lawyers from both firms.
The programme was set up as a response to the increasing demand on HCLC's services. The clinic enabled the provision of basic pro bono advice and freed up HCLC staff to focus on complex cases or vulnerable people with a need for representation. The response was almost instantaneous with HCLC front-line staff reporting an immediate impact on their own workload.
Following some small changes, the programme has now been established as a long-term blueprint for other local communities and will provide greater access to justice for those in deprived areas.
Ian Rathbone, chair of Hackney Community Law Centre, said:
"Without our great friends at BPP Law School, Debevoise & Plimpton and Faegre Baker Daniels, we could not have set up our innovative Dalston Pop-Up service. They have brought their professionalism, authority and wide knowledge to boost a much needed service in one of the poorest areas in the UK. We are pleased too that lawyers from other parts of the legal world are prepared to come and find out what it's like at this end of human affairs, and to be supportive of the work we do under difficult circumstances. The service is already oversubscribed, such is its success. It has encouraged and inspired us to look further and see in what ways we build up our relationship together and provide more help to the poorest in our community."
Stephen Llewellyn, counsel at Faegre Baker Daniels, who led the team from FaegreBD, said:
"Faegre Baker Daniels is dedicated to providing pro bono services, and it is particularly important for us to be working within the local London community. Following the introduction of the Jackson Reforms last month, more and more people are finding they are unable to access legal services. We hope that the blueprint designed from this pilot will provide greater access for justice for all. It is so fulfilling to see the real benefits the clinic brings to the local community and once you have seen that, you want to continue to participate in it."
In their first year, the Halsbury Legal Awards are given in recognition of excellence in the law and contribution to the legal sector. The Pro Bono Team of the Year is shared jointly with Northumbria University School of Law. The judges gave the award to both schemes because of the equal benefits that the two projects bring to their respective local communities.