Salford Business School

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Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year gives Lady Hale lecture

Monday 25 March 2013

Alison Gurden, Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2012, gave Salford Law School’s annual Lady Hale lecture on Friday 22 March 2013.

Alison is a barrister at 1 Gray’s Inn Square in London and a volunteer lawyer with the Public Defender’s Office in Florida, where she assists in the defence of people charged with murder and facing the death penalty.

In addition to being the Bar Council’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2012, Alison was presented with the Rodney Thaxton Award by the Florida Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in 2011 and was awarded the Clyde Atkins Award by the Florida Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for her work on death penalty cases.

Alison’s talk covered her career as a pro bono lawyer and included some fascinating and sometimes disturbing insights into her work in the UK and the USA, with her clients ranging from teenagers arrested for throwing sweets at a football match, to serial killers who were happy to discuss the best way to transport a victim’s body to a river for disposal. Her talk was followed by a lively question and answer session.

Alison was also the guest of honour at the Salford Student Law Society Annual Dinner later that evening at Manchester’s four-star Midland Hotel, where she gave students advice on how to develop a career in the law in general and pro bono work in particular.

Head of Salford Law School Mark James said: “It was a pleasure and a privilege to have someone of Alison’s standing come to the School and share her knowledge and experience with our students. In particular her passion and commitment in defence of what are often unpopular causes are great examples to anyone considering entering the legal profession.”