I am hugely excited to be speaking on this online panel with my colleagues at APPEAL next Thursday, 4 November, along with lawyers from Latham & Watkins and 9 Bedford Row.

The panel event marks Pro Bono Week, and we are looking forward to highlighting what can be achieved via collaboration between law firms and our pro bono partners such as non-profit law practices. Pro bono partnerships, when done in the right way, can be hugely beneficial for many reasons, and for all involved. 

At Ropes & Gray, our team in London is particularly proud of our partnership with APPEAL, a charity and law practice made up of experienced and talented investigators and lawyers committed to identifying, investigating and litigating potential miscarriages of justice and advocating for reforms to the criminal justice system.

For a number of years, a team of lawyers at Ropes & Gray, along with Latham & Watkins, Edward Henry QC of QEB Hollis Whiteman and Max Hardy of 9 Bedford Row, has been assisting APPEAL with the case of Andrew Malkinson.

Andy was convicted of the July 2003 rape of a 33-year-old woman, who was violently attacked in the early hours of the morning and left for dead. He has recently been released from prison, having served over 17 years. He remains in the eyes of the law a convicted sex offender, subject to restrictions, and is determined to clear his name. His refusal to admit to the offence meant that he spent many more years in prison than he would have done had he accepted guilt. Now, DNA testing has linked an unknown male to the crime.

It would be impossible to do justice here to the many failings that have impacted Andy’s case, from evidence destruction to untraced alternative suspects. I highly recommend The Sunday Times’ Social Affairs Correspondent Emily Dugan’s 'Stories of our Times' podcast series, which delves into the fascinating background of Andy’s case. Emily has also written a brilliant series of articles about Andy, which you can find here.

I look forward to seeing many of my network at the virtual panel event, at 5pm on Thursday 4 November. You can sign up using this link. Please do spread the word and, in particular, encourage your more junior colleagues to attend.

In addition to bringing awareness to Andy’s case, we want to highlight the many benefits of cultivating a meaningful pro bono practice. Through working with APPEAL, more junior team members have been able to gain exposure to criminal litigation, understand the trial and appeals process, review and assess evidence and consider the practical and tactical aspects of litigation.

There are invaluable opportunities to work closely with clients and within a team of external lawyers and counsel, benefiting from shared experience, as well as to hone legal research and drafting skills while assisting with important and interesting submissions.