Allen & Overy have been involved with Z2K’s Tribunal Project since the beginning of 2018, and have kindly provided funding from their Foundation:
- To ensure Z2K has the necessary infrastructure to take on 40 appeals on a monthly basis
- To increase access to tribunals for those individuals who cannot afford to pay for representation
- To grow evidence about the tribunals process so that Z2K could influence policy and/or identify strategic cases
As a result of their contributions, we have increased our capacity to take on approx. 400 cases a year. There is no doubt that the project has had an impact on our organisation, and our ability to influence change on the issue of people being denied their disability benefits unfairly.
For the first time, we have been able to increase numbers in 2019 so that we can help more people and can start to gather the evidence and real stories needed to put pressure on the system. The project has helped us to think again about how we deliver our services, using stronger referral partnerships, and developing empowerment strategies to encourage our clients to talk about their experiences.
Sara Spratt, Senior Associate at Allen & Overy, has been heavily involved with the project and has been nominated as one of Z2K’s Pro Bono stars. When asked about her experiences of volunteering with Z2K pro bono, she says:
“Volunteering to work on Z2K social security tribunal appeal cases has been really rewarding. Pro bono work offers the chance to use your legal skills to help those who would not otherwise have access to legal assistance (sadly an ever increasing number due to the ongoing devastating cuts to legal aid, which have had the consequence of removing access to justice from many who need it).
Initial training from Z2K and their ongoing supervision and availability to help with any questions during a case helps to make working in a new area of law less daunting. It can be challenging work meeting clients who are often vulnerable and under a great deal of stress, drafting submissions and then attending a tribunal. However the high success rate of the appeals makes it clear just how important it is that clients have assistance with their appeals to be able to claim the disability benefits and support to which they are entitled.
It is great to see a partnership like this between a corporate law firm and a small charity which provides vital work for disadvantaged Londoners and I am delighted to be given the time by Allen & Overy to be able to be a part of it and to work on a case which really can transform someone’s life”
On behalf of everyone at Z2K, thank you Sara for your on-going commitment and to Allen & Overy for your continued support. As a whole, Allen & Overy have taken 16 cases to tribunal, which has resulted in £249,144.04 in financial benefit for our clients (to September 2019). Thank you!