Oxford Lawyers fight against injustice of poverty

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Staff at leading Oxford law firm Blake Morgan have joined Lawyers Against Poverty, a groundbreaking scheme that aims to fight against social injustice.

The scheme is run by Oxfam, which has its headquarters in Oxford, and supports legal projects to give the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world access to justice and greater knowledge of their rights.

The group has organised a series of seminars in Oxford which will discuss the most important legal issues for poor people in the developing world. Topics include how Brexit could affect our relationship with developing countries, and modern day slavery.

Last week (on November 9), as part of National Pro Bono Week, Oxford Lawyers Against Poverty held an event highlighting how lawyers can assist with Brexit negotiations. The sold-out event, at the Blavatnik School of Government, was attended by many members of Blake Morgan staff.

Lawyers Against Poverty is headed by Joss Saunders, general counsel for Oxfam, who is also a consultant specialising in charity law for Blake Morgan, and the Oxford branch of the scheme is headed led by Louise Lewis, a wills and tax specialist solicitor based at Blake Morgan’s Oxford office.

Louise said: “Every human being has the right to a standard of living that is adequate for health and well-being. That includes food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.

“These basic rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and yet, 66 years after the declaration was signed, we still live in a world where billions of people live in poverty.

“People need the rule of law to help lift them out of poverty, but the deeply worrying statistic is that up to four billion people are being denied the legislation that will help them break free from the poverty cycle.”

Among the injustices being battled by Lawyers For Justice are gender-based violence and widow inheritance in Uganda, and the land rights of poor farmers in the Philippines.

Lawyers contribute to a Justice Fund whose good causes have included helping to rebuild a school that was destroyed in Tajikistan's civil war.

Louise added: “As Oxford is the home of Oxfam we have had a huge push from the firm. It’s so worthwhile to be able to use our legal acumen and knowledge to help good causes.”

In forthcoming events, Blake Morgan is sponsoring a talk at Oxford’s Mansfield College on Thursday, February 23, 2017, which will focus on women’s rights and will include a speech from Helena Kennedy, one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers and a well-known advocate for social justice.

To find out more about the scheme visit www.oxfam.org.uk/lawyers-against-poverty, and follow updates on Twitter via  @OxfamLawyers.