Law student’s work in community sees her shortlisted for award

Annabel Pike's work has been recognised at the LawWorks Student Pro Bono Awards

  • Date

    Wed 5 May 21

An Essex law student’s work, providing free legal advice and support in her local community, has seen her shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Annabel Pike has been shortlisted in the “Best Contribution By An Individual Student” category at the LawWorks Student Pro Bono Awards, which celebrate the contribution law students and law schools make in providing free legal advice.

The postgraduate student described the news of her shortlisting as “really cool”, adding, “I really wasn’t expecting this.”

Annabel, who is in her fourth year of volunteering with Essex Law Clinic, is the student lead on a pioneering LGBTQ+ rights project. The project brings together student volunteers and local LGBTQ+ charity OutHouse East. The project also works with Chelmsford-based HIV charity Metro.

In addition to providing advice and legal education, Annabel has produced a range of factsheets to explain legal issues, and is helping to develop a theatre project highlighting issues around surrogacy and a podcast series focusing on discrimination.

She admits that she had no idea, before arriving at Essex, that these opportunities would be available to her while studying law.

Annabel Pike said: “No, before I came to Essex, I didn't really know anything about the Law Clinic. Just after I arrived, I went to a talk and I was immediately like, ‘Yes, I’m definitely going to sign up for that.’ I’ve learned so much meeting with clients and talking with them. We’ve also had LGBT awareness training with OutHouse, so I’ve picked up lots of skills.”

Clinic Deputy Director Lee Hansen said: “We are delighted that Annabel’s commitment to the Law Clinic and its clients has been recognised by her shortlisting for this prestigious award. Students like Annabel play such an important role in addressing the massive legal need that exists within our community. She has been an outstanding member of the Clinic, helping to provide our clients with a compassionate and responsive service.”

Essex Law Clinic currently has 235 student members. Annabel is one of 11 students to hold gold membership, reserved for those individuals who have made a sustained and extraordinary contribution to the Clinic and its clients.

Annabel Pike said: “Generally, when a new case comes in it will be myself and one other student and then we'll be assigned a supervisor who is a specialist in the relevant area, so in family law or property law, say.

“Because I'm a gold member I can, with a supervisor, offer advice on the spot, but generally you interview clients to find out what you need to know – the interviews are a bit of a ‘fact-finding mission’. Once you’ve completed an interview, you have twenty working days to write an advice letter. You then go off and do all of the really in-depth research and apply all of that to their exact case, so you can advise them on next steps.

“I tend to do a lot of Family Law cases and, because I'm on the LGBTQ+ Rights Project, I get a lot of non-discrimination cases as well. Family Law can be quite difficult, because those tend to be the more emotional cases, but it’s always really satisfying to see them through to the end.”

Annabel completed her undergraduate degree at the School of Law last summer, but has returned to take a Masters in International Human Rights Law.

Annabel is also a member of the University’s Human Rights Centre Clinic, where she has been working on a project in partnership with Amnesty International UK, exploring the human rights implications of policing protest.

The winners in the LawWorks Student Pro Bono Awards will be revealed on Wednesday 12th May 2021. This is the third year in a row when an Essex Law Clinic student has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. Last year Jade Hunt was awarded the runner-up position and we hope Annabel will enjoy even greater success.