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Shoosmiths trainees provide pro bono legal advice aligned with the United Nations global Sustainable Development Goals

Each year Shoosmiths issues a CR challenge to its first year trainees and our 2017/2018 project was to ask our 22 trainees under appropriate supervision to provide legal advice to organisations that are addressing any of the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) in the UK.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by United Nations member states defining 17 global priorities for sustainable development to be delivered by 2030. Together the global goals set out an ambitious agenda for a better world by 2030 – fairer, safer, healthier, more prosperous and in better balance with nature. The goals and the 169 associated targets are interdependent.

The goals are relevant to the UK and companies have a role to play, both by achieving positive good but also collaborating with other organisations to leverage positive change.

Just some of the work our trainees undertook included:

  • Researching and compiling a report due later this summer concerning the legal framework, regulatory issues and risks regarding care initiatives that are destined to combat loneliness in the elderly
  • Our Manchester trainees assisting senior associate Anita Shepherd in advising on family law matters at the Legal Advice Clinic set up in the city and which takes place on the last Friday of every month at the Civil Justice Centre.
  • Work underway for a homeless focused charity that will provide a formal agreement between the charity and its clients residing at its property that will facilitate for instance the stay and compliance with safety rules and requirements.
  • Drafting articles of association for a non-profit organisation promoting ethical business practice.
  • Producing a lease report on a charity’s property to outline continuing obligations under the lease and in the future; commercial and intellectual property advice for a community interest company.
  • Advice regarding a terminal schedule of dilapidations and landlord settlement advice.
  • Advice on negotiating and agreeing a lease of woodland to be used by the charity for recreational/educational purposes. This has included drafting a report on title, advising on searches and drafting a lease
  • A new approach initiated by our Birmingham trainees has been the establishment of a panel of 17 legal advisers across the Birmingham office willing to support trainees and paralegals when pro bono opportunities arise. The existence of the pro bono panel has made it easier for junior legal advisers to obtain appropriate supervision enabling them to take on pro bono instructions.
  • Other work has included supporting pro bono clinics we operate in Reading and Northampton and exploring with a local education provider the potential to support further an existing pro bono clinic.

The challenge has helped the trainees to practice and develop new skills that will equip them well for the future when they qualify. Equally it is hoped that they will continue to provide free legal advice to individuals and organisations in need throughout their careers, making effective use of the lawyer’s unique skills.

Samantha Hope, graduate recruitment manager, and Nicola Ellen, corporate responsibility consultant, had the difficult task of choosing three award winners and were delighted with everyone’s efforts from September 2017 to date. The trainees as a team had really got behind the challenge, supporting existing pro bono programmes, volunteering to advise on ad hoc received approaches as well as taking the initiative to investigate and introduce new pro bono projects to the business.

Nevertheless as with all challenges there were awards to be decided and for the 2017/2018 Shoosmiths trainee challenge the nature of a number of collaborative projects meant special mentions must be made to the following colleagues:

Best overall trainee award for the trainee with the most empowering Shoosmiths SDGs pro bono programme– congratulations James Gallimore and Sam Henegan in Shoosmiths’ Nottingham office who carried out extensive research, engaging with various national and international charities alongside organisations that have experience in implementing similar initiatives to the ones proposed by the client. From their research, they are in the process of putting together a comprehensive report.

Best participation award for the trainee who achieved the most employee engagement and participation – congratulations Alice Sedgley, Dilbhar Sewak, Lucy Sanderson and Rebecca Horton in the Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office who put together a panel of legal advisors from across the Birmingham office to support trainees and paralegals with incoming pro-bono opportunities. The introduction of a pro-bono panel has made it easier for junior legal advisors to obtain suitable supervision to allow them to take on pro bono instructions. As a result, 17 qualified Legal Advisors signed up to the panel as supervisors.

Best ambassador award for the trainee who best spread the word about the role Shoosmiths is playing in delivering the SDGs – congratulations Emily Holt in the Shoosmiths’ Manchester office who along with other Manchester trainees assisted Anita Shepherd, a senior associate in the Family Department, with a monthly pro-bono clinic she runs in the city. Emily also volunteered for a Law Works matter Emily said “By encouraging trainees to get involved in pro-bono, Shoosmiths will retain and recruit solicitors with more client exposure and experience in giving legal advice. The challenge has been useful because we have been able to take the lead in matters which will prepare us for when we are given more responsibility as NQs.”

Samantha commended the work of everyone involved, saying “Once again, our first year trainee group have successfully delivered on a tough challenge, not just for the benefit of their own development, but for the development of others, for the benefit of the firm and our clients. We continually strive to develop the skills and qualities of our solicitors, whilst doing ‘good’ and this has been a great challenge to achieve all of these goals. Congratulations to all involved!”

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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