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Family Law Awards Spotlight: Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2015

Date:14 JUN 2017
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Bianca Jackson of Coram Chambers won the Family Law Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2015. Here, she talks about her ongoing commitment to pro bono work and the changes she would make to the profession.

What was your route into the profession?

Prior to being called to the Bar, I obtained a doctorate in English literature at the University of Oxford and taught there before embarking on the 2-year law degree at the University of Cambridge.

How did you become involved in pro bono work?

My family has a strong tradition of volunteerism and I’ve been involved in pro bono work since I was a teenager, utilising whatever skills I could offer to NGOs. When I qualified as a barrister, it was only natural that I use my law skills to help others.

Why is pro bono work so important in today’s society?

Pro bono work in the legal sector is more important now than it has ever been in light of the cuts to legal aid. In respect of pro bono work generally, we have a responsibility as human beings to help those who need it if we can.

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Which person within the legal profession inspires you most?

There are so many, from my colleagues at Coram Chambers to amazing members of the judiciary like Mrs Justice Theis. I cannot name just one.

What change would you make to the profession?

Again, there are so many changes I would make if money were no option. We need to bring back legal aid and increase the rates, which have decreased while the cost of living has continued to rise. We need more diversity at the Bar, particularly at the QC level, and in the judiciary, and to sponsor initiatives that enable that to happen. I could go on and on…

What impact do you feel receiving the Family Law Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year has had on your career?

It was an honour to receive the Family Law Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award. To be granted an award of that calibre is always beneficial to one’s career, especially at a junior level. I think that it is the actual work that I did to obtain the award – volunteering with organisations such as the Bar Pro Bono Unit and LawWorks – that has had and continues to have a great impact on my career and I would encourage all my fellow members of the Bar to get involved.

Visit the Family Law Awards website for more information about the 2017 Awards.