Maria Scotland lands Bar Pro Bono Award 2010

FAMILY barrister Maria Scotland, of 7 Bedford Row Chambers, has been named the winner of the 14th Annual Sydney Elland Goldsmith Bar Pro Bono Award, which was presented at the 25th Annual Bar Conference on Saturday 6 November by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The Bar Pro Bono Award is given to an individual barrister or set of chambers in recognition of outstanding commitment to pro bono work.

Aside from being a very busy practitioner, Maria has taken on a vast amount of pro bono cases; 12 cases in the past 12 months alone. The work on these cases has ranged from written advice to attendance in court whilst Maria also regularly reviews cases for the Bar Pro Bono Unit. Yet all of this Maria does quietly, without any fanfare, to the extent that few people are aware of the huge contribution she has made towards pro bono.

A special mention was given to Robert Banks of Rye Green Chambers. Robert was nominated for his longstanding commitment to giving pro bono legal advice to prisoners. Over the past three years, Robert has given direct legal assistance to a staggering 301 prisoners. Robert writes his own column in insidetime, the national newspaper for prisoners, which is read by over 50,000 readers each month.
The newspaper is distributed in prisons, probation hostels and special hospitals. Robert replies personally to each  letter he receives.

The judging panel comprised:

  • Lord Goldsmith QC - Chairman;
  • David Barnes, Chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks;
  • Diane Burleigh, Chief Executive of the Institute of Legal Executives;
  • David Hobart, Chief Executive of the Bar Council;
  • Des Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society; and
  • Steve Johnson, Chief Executive of Advice UK.
  • Rebecca Wilkie, Chief Executive of the Bar Pro Bono Unit

“We were overwhelmed by the quality of entries we received this year. It was a very close call, but the judging panel felt that Maria’s contribution stood out this year.

We are excited, once again, to have the opportunity to recognise the superb contribution which the Bar makes to pro bono, across all practice areas. This reiterates the commitment of the profession to continuing to undertake pro bono work, despite the tough financial context that it is operating within.”