Jordan Publishing is delighted to announce that Maeve O'Rourke, a pupil at 4 Paper Buildings, has been selected as the Family Law Awards 2013 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.
The judges also specially commended Donna Payne, a solicitor at Paynes Solicitors & Mediators, for her tireless work for victims of domestic abuse and their families through her charity CorDomus.
Maeve will collect her award at the Family Law Awards ceremony on Wednesday 9 October 2013 at the London Hilton hotel on Park Lane, Mayfair.
Jordan Publishing invited the trustees of the National Pro Bono Centre to judge the award to highlight the importance of pro bono work, especially at a time when legal aid funding is being cut.
Maeve represented the victims of Ireland's church-run Magdalene Laundries, where girls and women were incarcerated and forced into unpaid labour in their thousands from 1922 to 1996.
While still a law student, and as the only lawyer of the voluntary advocacy group ‘Justice for Magdalenes', Maeve brought the case before the Irish Human Rights Commission in 2010 and UN Committee against Torture and UN Human Rights Council in 2011. Her submissions to the UN on the international and domestic legal obligations of the Irish state to investigate and provide reparation included anonymised testimonies of women she had interviewed in the UK.
Each of these bodies issued formal recommendations to the Irish government to investigate and provide reparations, and it was in the immediate aftermath of the UN Committee against Torture's recommendation in June 2011 that the government established an Inter-departmental Committee to inquire into state interaction with the laundries. In February 2013, the Irish Taoiseach issued a formal apology to the victims two weeks after that Committee published its report.
Maeve has written a follow up report to the UN Committee against Torture since the apology and her pro bono work throughout the year has also included assisting Justice for Magdalenes in drafting parliamentary questions, corresponding with government and the President of the Law Reform Commission regarding the reparations process, designing a guide for survivors in engaging with the reparations process and maintaining communication with survivors.
Jordan Publishing would like to congratulate Maeve and Donna and thank everyone who nominated her. If you wish to attend the awards ceremony, bookings can be made through our website.
Join the conversation about the awards on Twitter by using the hashtag: #familylawawards.