A barrister renowned for his work in public law, civil liberties and human rights has been named Legal Aid Barrister of the year.
Philip Rule, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, secured success at last night’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards held in London.
Philip said: “It was truly humbling to receive the award of Legal Aid Barrister of the Year, given the high calibre of the others nominated and shortlisted for the award, and also because it meant a lot to me personally to hear the comments from solicitors and other counsel in the support I received for the award.
“It became clear to me that the dedication and perseverance I put in to clients’ cases is so appreciated and understood – and that itself meant a lot.
“I am extremely fortunate to be able to do the work I do, and am very grateful for the high quality and high profile instructions I receive, but I would also like the award to be on behalf of those who everyday apply themselves selflessly to legal aid work up and down the country in the criminal and family courts, in prisons, housing, inquest and social welfare cases. There cannot be an award for every one of them, but each lawyer who chooses to dedicate their practice to helping those who are in vulnerable positions and who could not afford justice without legal aid is performing a vitally important role in ensuring that we can claim to be a fair and just society.
“I hope the LALYs help to promote a greater understanding and focus in the public at large, and ultimately those responsible for the legal aid system, on the incredibly important work all legal aid lawyers are performing and the wider social benefit to having a system of law and justice respected by all citizens and not leaving some, as is evident in some other Western countries, to feel disenfranchised from justice.
“There needs to be more done to remove barriers to entry to this side of the legal profession for those from less affluent backgrounds seeking a career in the law, or trying to establish themselves in a career dedicated to this type of essential public service”
The LALYs, now in their 15th year, are organised by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group to celebrate the work of publicly-funded lawyers. They are run on a not-for-profit basis and offer an insight into the positive and crucial work done each year by dedicated legal aid lawyers.
LAPG director Carol Storer said: “It is such a privilege to be able to celebrate the ground breaking, life changing work of access to justice lawyers. The calibre of this year’s nominations was staggeringly high, and a real reflection of the expertise, grit and compassion which characterises the legal aid sector.”
Philip was nominated in recognition of his work in public law, civil liberties, human rights, prisoners’ rights and criminal defence, and received many glowing testimonials from clients.
Called to the Bar in 2001, Legal 500 rates him as a first-tier leading junior in public law recognised for specialism in human rights cases and experience in the highest courts.
He has a wealth of experience in public law matters across a relatively wide-range, and has established a particular expertise in the treatment of people subjected to detention or to imprisonment.
Last year he made national headlines when he called on Parliament to address the problem of prisoners serving indeterminate, open-ended sentences of imprisonment for public protection, IPP sentences.