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Lawyers rally to support victims of Manchester attack

From the Magic Circle to legal aid outfits, solicitors and barristers pledge pro bono help

26 May 2017

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Nearly 200 lawyers, law firms, and chambers have responded to a call from Manchester Law Society to offer pro bono legal help to those affected by the Manchester Arena terror attack.

The suicide-bomber attack at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday 22 May left 22 people dead and around 60 injured, many of them children and teenagers. The youngest victim was 8 years old.

Manchester Law Society has so far received 187 offers of help from more than 100 firms and individuals across Manchester, as well as others around the country including Hogan Lovells, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Slater and Gordon, Leigh Day, Irwin Mitchell, Obelisk Law, and Duncan Lewis.

Among the chambers to offer help are Garden Court North, Exchange Chambers, Kenworthy’s Chambers, Kings Chambers, and St Johns Building. Individual solicitors, barristers, and students also responded, as well as Manchester City Football Club’s legal department.

Chief executive of the Manchester Law Society Fran Eccles-Bech, who is coordinating the effort, said: ‘All too often lawyers get a bad press. This goes to show their generosity of spirit.’

She said: ‘Like everyone else in the community, we just want to help in any way we can, and offering free legal advice to those affected by this week’s tragedy in Manchester is what we can do best.

‘Since we put out the call to the legal community on Tuesday the response has been overwhelming. Over 100 local solicitor firms, law students, barristers, and also bigger law firms from the North and farther afield are offering free legal advice to the victims and their families to help deal with the legal issues they may face in the years and months to come as a result of [Monday] night’s events.’

‘I know ours is a small contribution in the face of the enormity of the impact of the attack on so many people’s lives, but I hope we can help even a little,’ she added.

Following the bombing on Monday, the society asked for firms willing to provide pro bono help and free representation to bereaved families to assist with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and inquests, as well as legal issues such as the administration of estates, property ownership and mortgages, insurance, welfare benefits, family and child custody, death in service and pensions, and financial obligations and debt.

Anyone willing to help should email FranEccles-Bech@manchesterlawsociety.org.uk

Catherine Baksi is a freelance legal journalist

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