a leeds-based law firm has been recognised for its pro-bono immigration work in partnership with a local charity.
Henry Hyams Solicitors has been shortlisted for The Law Society’s Excellence Awards, due to take place next month.
The firm’s three-strong immigration practice team is in the running for the award due to its work with the Manuel Bravo Project, a Leeds charity that provides legal assistance to people seeking asylum.
The project is named after Manuel Bravo, who sought asylum in Leeds after fleeing his native country of Angola. He committed suicide in 2005 when his claim was rejected after struggling to access advice.
Henry Hyams works alongside national law firms DLA Piper and Eversheds in providing free resource to the charity and its team of volunteers.
Solicitors Luke Piper and Emma Brooksbank and caseworker Parminder Kaur are one of the specilialist legal teams the charity works with, to provide legal advice to people undergoing asylum proceedings, who are unable to fund their own representation.
The team takes on cases in addition to the practice’s day-to-day workload, and also provides specialist resource for other legal teams working with the charity.
The work can mean the difference between ‘being removed to a country from which they have fled persecution and torture or being able to start a new future in the UK’, Ms Kaur said.
There has been a ‘strong history of pro-bono work’ across Henry Hyams’ practice areas since it was established in 1930.
Changes to Legal Aid that the government has introduced in recent years has led to an increase in demand for pro-bono services, she said.
‘It’s really important this service is available to people who can’t otherwise access legal advice,’ Ms Kaur said.
The team is one of 10 shortlisted organisations in the Excellence in Pro-Bono category of the awards, after having been praised by the Manuel Bravo Project for the commitment to pro-bono work.
Other shortlisted firms with a presence in the region include DLA Piper. Sheffield Hallam University has also been recognised for its pro-bono services.
The Law Society Excellence Awards take place on October 9.