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Wednesday, 28 April 2021

CULS Pro BonoThe Law Faculty is proud to recognise the achievements of the Pro Bono team of the Cambridge University Law Society 2020-21 who have recently been shortlisted for two awards for the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2021. The Pro Bono team have been led by four committed Law students this year, Jack Bailey, Natasha Godsiff, Abigail Pope and Sonia Sitea, and supported by Dr Jodi Gardner.

CULS Pro Bono has been shortlisted for the Access to Justice Foundation Award which celebrates students that have made a significant contribution to promoting access to justice. They have founded a number of projects this year to promote the central theme of access to justice and showed a strong determination and commitment to provide pro bono opportunities for students, despite the challenging circumstances of Covid-19.

This year, the Pro Bono team have proudly founded the "Cambridge Pro Bono Awards" to celebrate the legal pro bono work performed by Cambridge students, ranging from the Bronze Award (15 hours) to the Platinum Award (80 hours). The Award winners will be celebrated at the Pro Bono Awards Ceremony at the end of the academic year.

As CULS has been a proud participant in the Cambridge Legal Walk in previous years, CULS Pro Bono organised a remote Access to Justice Foundation fundraiser, "Run the Extra Mile for Justice". Students raised money for the number of miles they ran over a specified period and CULS arranged for prizes to be awarded to the students who raised the most money.

CULS Pro Bono have also partnered with Amicus, a small charity that helps provide representation for those facing the death penalty in the United States. They hosted a speakers' event with Amicus to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the death penalty, and a movie fundraiser of 'Clemency' to raise funds to support the work of Amicus. Most notably, CULS Pro Bono have founded the Missouri Project at Cambridge, providing students with the opportunity to work on a casework research project that aims to identify the disproportionate application of the death penalty in Missouri. Over 70 students have now been trained and are involved in this exciting project. Student volunteers have been verifying a database of the last 30 years' worth of homicides in Missouri, flagging and tracking problems which will be used to infer common issues in capital cases, such as racial bias.

Furthermore, CULS Pro Bono have partnered with the International Law Book Facility to send second-hand legal textbooks to organisations in need in Ethiopia, such as universities and prisons. CULS Pro Bono are also working closely with Citizens Advice in Cambridge to discuss the potential of both remote and in-person student placements post-Covid-19. In addition, the Pro Bono team have hosted numerous speakers' events and socials throughout the year, including a Domestic Abuse Panel and careers at an NGO with Humanitarian Affairs Asia.

We are also delighted that Natasha Godsiff, a final-year Law student at Corpus Christi College, has been shortlisted for LawWorks Best Contribution by an Individual Student. This comes shortly after she was also shortlisted for the Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards 2021, which are presented annually to students who show exceptional achievement and commitment to positive social change. In addition to the projects Natasha has coordinated through her role with CULS Pro Bono, she is engaged in numerous voluntary projects with various charities both locally and internationally, including Humanitarian Affairs Asia, Citizens Advice Blackpool, and CU HELP Nepal.

Rebecca McNeil, CULS President 2020-21, has commented:

"I am incredibly proud of all that the CULS Pro Bono team has achieved this year. They have established amazing and effective partnerships with organisations such as Amicus, Citizens Advice, the International Law Book Facility and the Access to Justice Foundation. The strong links that the team has established with the Law Faculty will likely benefit collaborative pro bono work between CULS and the Faculty for years to come. I am so glad that this proactive and passionate team's hard work is being recognised by LawWorks and the Attorney-General. Additionally, Natasha Godsiff has done incredible work for CULS Pro Bono as well as for multiple other charities through her diligence and proactivity. Her shortlisting for the Best Contribution by an Individual Student award is so highly deserved!"

We wish our shortlisted candidates the best of the luck as the Award winners will be announced at a remote awards ceremony on 12 May with the Attorney General, the Rt Hon. Michal Ellis QC MP.