Host Organisation: Avon & Bristol Law Centre

Barbara Likulunga

I am very passionate about societal change and believe the law is an important tool for change especially with regard to social injustices. I completed my LLB Law degree in 2012 from the University of East Anglia. In my third year I completed two International Development modules (Human Rights and Sub-Saharan Africa), achieving a first in both. I also took two legal modules on human rights (UK Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights).

Whilst studying I got involved in a lot of pro bono and extracurricular activities:

I worked as a Student Mentor and Aimhigher Associate throughout my degree where I was allocated mentees of secondary school level. I provided support, encouragement and raised aspirations and awareness of further education.

I was a member of a number of committees. This included being the secretary of the African Caribbean Society in my second year and Fundraising Co-ordinator for the Red Cross Society in my third year.

In my final year I completed an internship as an International Humanitarian Law Community Speaker where I studied a module on International Humanitarian Law and researched legal instruments governing the illegal use of child soldiers. I delivered presentations to academic audiences on the law governing conflicts around the world and the illegal use of child soldiers.

I also worked part time along my studies as a Customer Adviser in retail and as a Student Ambassador for the university.

After graduating, I volunteered for the Citizens Advice Bureau as a Generalist Adviser where I provided advice to the public on issues including employment, benefits and debt. I helped clients with appeal decisions, assisted clients to negotiate with creditors and provided support so clients could maximise their income. I also worked an Administrative Assistant from 2013 – 2015 on the Advice Pathway Project, which increased access to advice by 30% by the projects end. I also worked as a Supervisor of a retail store where I supported management in store operations and team development.

I completed my LPC part-time from 2013 – 2015 specialising in employment, family and immigration and achieved an overall distinction. I was awarded a scholarship for academic achievement and pro bono work.

Project – Alternative streams of funding: funding employment cases using Legal Expenses Insurance

The project is looking into the viability of Legal Expenses Insurance as an alternative income stream for funding Employment cases. The introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Act 2012 has now put Employment law out of scope except for discrimination claims. Additionally, a study by UNISON evidenced that as of September 2014, there was an 81% drop in employment tribunal claims compared to the same period the previous year since the introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013. This has a direct effect on access to justice as clients may be deterred from bringing claims due to these barriers.

The project is divided into four phases: research, implementation, raising awareness and evaluation. One of the aims of the project is to run at least three test cases using Legal Expenses Insurance to test its viability as an income source for the Avon and Bristol Law Centre. If successful, there may be scope to cascade this to other voluntary organisations. This will include implementing a monitoring system, attending training and producing a report outlining the outcomes of the project.

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