We are rather chuffed to say that the day before yesterday we unexpectedly won an award. Wednesday night was the Bar Pro Bono awards ceremony, and we were in the running for the pro bono innovation award, as a result of our work getting legal blogging established in family courts.

Our Alice Twaite went as our representative and collected this rather super (and very transparent) award.

Alice collecting our award

That’s Alice in the middle, with the Lord Chief Justice on the left of the picture and Mr Justice Robin Knowles on the right.

By way of background, apparently, ‘nominees for this award are recognised for their innovation within the sector and their work on game-changing schemes, whether through the use of technology or in another field’, and ‘must be distinguished by their creativity and their ability to inspire and to set new pro bono precedents within the legal profession’.

The legal blogging pilot was an idea that the Transparency Project came up with in 2017/18, and which we presented to the Family Procedure Rules Committee with little hope that we would get anywhere. However, we made our case, the rules committee agreed with us and brought into force Practice Direction 36J in October 2018 that made our pilot idea a reality. We’ve been gently trying out what it is capable of, and working out how best to make it work since then. The scheme has now been extended until the summer of 2020. We’ve managed to write something following almost every hearing we’ve attended, and have secured a relaxation of the usual reporting restrictions on a number of occasions – with no great fuss or drama. Proving that it is possible to report family courts in an accurate, sensitive and informative way. All the lawyers who have been to court under the pilot (almost all associated with the TP) have done so without payment and in their own time.

One of the supporting letters that backed our nomination stated that :

I am conscious that this initiative by the Transparency Project does not necessarily bear the hallmarks of innovations currently in vogue. The Pilot doesn’t make use of data and it doesn’t make use of advanced technologies. But it is innovative for all the right reasons: it makes effective use of the resources we have available — lawyers willing to provide their skill and time at no fee — to promote the availability of reliable information to those who need it.

We hope that our blog posts are useful both to litigants but also to the general public, though they don’t at present have a huge audience. Hopefully one upshot of the good publicity generated by us winning this award will be that more people will read our legal blog posts and more people will think about trying their hand at it too. Please do get in touch if you’d like to have a go but are still a bit apprehensive. You can read our pilot blog posts and find out more about the pilot here. We published three new pilot posts on Wednesday too :

If you think our posts are worthwhile please spread the word by telling friends and colleagues, liking, sharing etc etc.

We know you are desperate for a close up of that treasure, so here it is :