Set up by Maura McGowan QC after the commitment to assisting the Bar of Sierra Leone made in her inaugural address, the group intends to help provide advocacy and ethics training in Sierra Leone through the Advocacy Training Council. It will also promote other means of strengthening the legal profession, including arranging mentoring for young lawyers, exchange programmes and assisting in the maintenance and modernisation of law library facilities. Anyone interested in joining the group or becoming a mentor, especially those from West Africa, should email:

Project Umubano
Project Umubano, the Conservative Party’s international social action project, is looking for barristers to volunteer to join its trip to Sierra Leone in September this year. The project’s work, which was featured in the November 2012 edition of Counsel, includes training for lawyers and paralegals in a range of subjects. For more information see: or email:

Most judges escape cuts
Three-quarters of sitting judges will escape cuts to their pensions, the government has confirmed. Judicial pensions are being cut back in line with other public service schemes, but those within 10 years of pension age at 1 April 2012 – around 75% of judges – will continue in their current schemes. The remaining quarter of judges will move into the new scheme from 1 April 2015. A “tapering protection” has been offered to those appointed before 1 April 2012, and who were aged between 51½ and 55 at that date. A High Court judge retiring after 20 years of service would receive £86,500 a year plus a lump sum of £173,000 under the current scheme, compared with £75,000 a year with no lump sum under the new plans.