Essex law student wins first prize in high-profile law awards

  • Date

    Tue 10 May 22

headshot of Sam Howlett holding an award

Law graduate Samantha Howlett proudly took home the award for ‘best contribution by an individual’, from the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards ceremony last week.

The awards celebrate the best pro bono activities carried out by law students and law schools, and recognise the positive impact this work has had.

Sam, who graduated last year with a First Class LLB, was recognised for the work she does – and has done over the last four years – with the Essex Law Clinic.

Based at the University, the Clinic offers free initial advice about legal problems while giving students the chance to work alongside practicing lawyers to advise real clients.

Sam, currently studying for her LLM, has a passion for family law – fuelled by her direct experience of what it is like to be a vulnerable person, having left home and school at a young age – and is committed to pro bono work.

Speaking about winning the award, Sam said: “I feel honoured, and beyond shocked, to have won this award. Many great people were shortlisted, who have completed some outstanding work, and so I feel blessed to have been chosen by the judges. I am very proud to have come so far, and to have been able to help so many people with my work at the Clinic.

“I wouldn't be where I am today without the support and guidance that I have received from everyone at the Essex Law Clinic, and in particular Liz Fisher-Frank, who not only nominated me but has been a constant support and wealth of knowledge and teaching during my four years here.

“I only hope I can show others that with hard work and perseverance, your dreams are achievable. But even more than that, I really hope to have passed on my love for promoting and working on access to justice issues. Pro bono work is so important for those who would not be able to gain legal advice in any other way, and as such is incredibly rewarding.”

As well as being student director at the Essex Law Clinic for the last two years, Sam has also been the family law project leader as well as the domestic and sexual abuse project leader. She has also been the student and carer representative for the University’s Student Union.

Professor Donald Nicolson, Director of the Essex Law Clinic, said everyone involved in the Clinic was “hugely proud” of Sam.

“Sam has been an inspiring role model in the Clinic for the last four years, and as student director for the last two years, and has been instrumental in helping the Clinic develop to such a strong position of strength today,” he said.

“The fact that Sam is the fourth Essex Law Clinic student in a row to be nominated for these annual awards shows the quality of University of Essex students, and the value in giving autonomy in handling their duties and responsibility for helping to run the Clinic.”

LawWorks, the Solicitors Pro Bono Group, is a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers and law students with people in need of legal advice. It’s supported by the Law Society of England and Wales, the independent professional body for solicitors.