Nikolas Clarke is civil law advocate who focuses mainly on employment, inquests and personal injury cases. In celebration of Pro Bono Week, he discusses one of his pro bono cases from the past year.
Please tell us about the pro bono work you did
I assisted a senior manager in the NHS who was facing a disciplinary process.
What impact did the pro bono work have on the people and communities you worked with?
My pro bono advice had a real impact on my client as an individual. Understandably, he had been very concerned about the process that he faced.
I was able to give him confidence to put forward his position at each stage of the process and to defend himself rigorously.
I identified several significant procedural and substantive errors or shortcomings in the NHS’ approach. In correspondence, I drew these matters to their attention.
I would hope that they've been able to reflect on their shortcomings in this process, and that they won’t make similar mistakes again.
Did your pro bono work have an impact on your professional career? If so, in what ways?
As an employment law barrister, I very rarely get involved in a disciplinary process. I'm almost exclusively instructed once that process has finished. Being involved in the process itself gave me a much better insight into the issues faced by employees and employers.
This has benefitted me in cases involving disciplinary processes that I have been instructed in since.
Any final comments
Lawyers can give great value to individuals even with a small amount of assistance.
Sometimes it's as simple as reassuring an individual they’re taking the right approach to an issue, or helping them with a draft letter, or putting together bullet-points for a meeting.
If you can spare even a couple of hours of your time for pro bono work, it can make the world of difference to someone in need.