Barrister Ryan Anderson has a mixed practice in employment, civil, housing and family law. In celebration of Pro Bono Week, he discusses some of his pro bono work from the past year.
Please tell us about the pro bono work you did
During the last year or so I have been involved primarily in two complex pro bono matters.
The first was the inquest into the death of Barry Pring. I assisted leading counsel John McLinden KC and John Critchley, in representing the deceased’s widow.
She was accused of conspiracy to murder by the deceased’s family. This was a long-running matter which involved a media campaign against the client – labelled ‘the Black Widow’ by the tabloid press – and a quashed first inquest decision in 2017.
With our pro bono representation, the client’s name was unequivocally cleared by the coroner, who found that there was no conspiracy to kill Barry.
The second is an ongoing employment remedy matter following judgment against a large public body. My client – the employee - has had complex PTSD triggered by the employer’s actions, and is seeking reinstatement due to the specialised nature of her role.
Negotiations and preparations are ongoing, with a three-day remedy trial set for early 2023.
What impact did the pro bono work have on the people and communities you worked with?
My pro bono assistance in the inquest helped secure a favourable outcome for our client in circumstances where the long-running proceedings had decimated her finances. She had faced a campaign of abuse and the outcome could have had devastating consequences.
Being cleared at this second inquest meant she could finally move on with her life without the allegations hanging over her – her husband had been killed back in 2008.
Advising my employment client has given her vital support when her exacerbated health issues made it incredibly difficult for her to conduct matters on her own, especially around the sensitive issue of negotiating a return to work.
Did your pro bono work have an impact on your professional career? If so, in what ways?
My work has given me exposure to a level of challenge I would not ordinarily face at this stage of my career. It has taught me a huge amount, particularly about client care and expectation management, taking instructions in difficult circumstances, and presenting complex facts in a succinct way.
Any final comments
I cannot recommend pro bono work highly enough, nor emphasise how valuable it is. You will be doing real good for people in need, and benefitting your own career at the same time. And, dare I say, you may get a better sense of fulfilment from putting in long hours for free for someone who really needs it!