30 Nov 2022

DLA Piper associate recognised for spearheading pro bono project to advise Ukrainian refugees

Olivia Clark praises collaborative efforts of more than 300 lawyers from City of London law firms

Group photo of Olivia Clark receiving her prize

Olivia Clark receiving her prize

DLA Piper's UK pro bono manager has been recognised by London's legal community for her work coordinating a project to provide free legal advice to Ukrainian refugees.

Associate Olivia Clark is this year's recipient of the Wig & Pen Prize, which is jointly awarded by the City of London Law Society (CLLS) and City of London Solicitor’s Company and celebrates the pro bono legal work of City lawyers. 

She secured the award for her work coordinating the Ukraine Advice Project, which connects Ukrainians fleeing the war with lawyers who can advise about legal pathways to the UK.

DLA Piper said its pro bono team had recruited 100 lawyers from across its seven UK offices and a further 300 volunteers from other law firms to support Ukrainians seeking legal advice. The firm uses an online portal to connect lawyers and Ukrainians in an instant message-style chat, in a bid to make legal information accessible. 

The portal has provided information to more than 4,300 Ukrainians and their families and has linked more than 1,500 Ukrainians with pro bono immigration legal support. 

‘By supporting Ukrainians in this way, the team was able to relieve pressure on the immigration sector, which is under significant strain as a result of legal aid cuts,’ the firm said, adding that it had dedicated more than 3,000 pro bono hours to the project. 

CLLS chairman Edward Sparrow described Clark as a “worthy” winner. 

“Her passion for refugee and asylum rights is laudable and her involvement in addressing the big issues of today must be recognised," he said. "She has made a difference to the lives of many Ukrainian refugees.”

Clark said: “This award recognises the collaborative efforts of over 300 lawyers from city law firms, including DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells, Eversheds Sutherland and Clyde & Co. It is fantastic for this project to receive this acknowledgment and to have a light shone on the efforts by our team and our peers to ensure Ukrainians could access timely legal information and advice.”

Last year Hogan Lovells litigation partner Angela Dimsdale Gill won the prize in recognition of her pro bono work over a 30-year career that saw her launch Hogan Lovells’ full-time pro bono UK practice back in 1997, then the first of its kind in Europe. 

Other firms involved in aiding Ukraine on a pro bono basis since the country was invaded by Russia include disputes specialist Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which in March said it been appointed as counsel by Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice in European human rights proceedings being brought against Russia. 

And in April US firm Covington & Burling, the UK's Withers and French independent Sygna Partners were appointed to a legal task force assembled by the Ukraine government to pursue allegations of war crimes and secure reparations in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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