11 November 2015
A&L Goodbody and the Irish Refugee Council’s Independent Law Centre have won the inaugural European Award for Local Pro Bono Impact, in recognition of their innovative pro bono programme which provides essential legal services to people claiming refugee status in Ireland. The award was announced at the 2015 European Pro Bono Forum in Rome.
Presented by PILnet, an independent non-profit organisation that works to challenge injustice through law and policy, the award recognises the best and most innovative pro bono legal project undertaken by a law firm and/or an NGO across Europe. It was awarded to A&L Goodbody and the Irish Refugee Council for their work in providing legal representation to asylum seekers who have experienced trauma in their home countries and require legal support in navigating the Irish asylum process. The relationship with the Irish Refugee Council and A&L Goodbody was facilitated by PILA, as the first ‘Signature Project’ of its kind in Ireland.
Since the beginning of the programme in 2013, 70 A&L Goodbody lawyers have undertaken comprehensive training and mentoring in refugee law, and have dedicated over 2,600 hours to 26 individual refugee cases. The Firm offers legal representation at the beginning of the asylum procedure, a process known as “early legal advice”.
Speaking at the award presentation, Acting Co-Executive Director of PILnet, Atanas Politov said: "A&L Goodbody's collaboration with the Irish Refugee Council's Independent Law Centre established effective legal remedies and provided invaluable legal assistance to vulnerable populations in Ireland. We believe this project has been an important pioneering effort to leverage new resources for the public interest. Its influence will not only be felt in Ireland but across Europe."
Eamonn Conlon, Partner and Head of Corporate Responsibility at A&L Goodbody added: "We are delighted to accept this award alongside our partners in the Irish Refugee Council. For those who may have already experienced significant trauma in their lives, navigating the asylum process can be extremely daunting and can present its own set of challenges. We’re proud to have helped break ground in developing this important initiative, which demonstrates how corporate law firms can use their skills and expertise for the benefit of some of the most marginalised individuals in our society.”
To learn more about how your firm might develop a ‘Signature Project’, please contact PILA’s Legal Officer Eithne Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.