Our pro bono volunteers are a huge support to our work to protect whistleblowers. Here Protect pro bono volunteer Annie Long speaks about her experience
I am a trainee solicitor at Howard Kennedy LLP and am currently on secondment at Protect. At Protect, we give free legal to individuals who want to raise or have raised whistleblowing concerns, including on the legal protections for whistleblowers under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA).
Giving free legal advice enables us to address the power imbalance that often exists in employment disputes by helping individuals who are unable to afford legal advice to understand their rights and access the legal system. Not only is our work beneficial to those that we advise (as we are consistently reminded by our callers), but hugely rewarding as an adviser to know that our contribution is making a difference, particularly as we all believe strongly in the important role that whistleblowers play.
Working on Protect’s advice line, I have developed skills that I did not expect to practise or develop until later in my career. Becoming an expert in, and learning the intricacies of, whistleblowing legislation has given me confidence in my ability to digest a complex area of law and advise on its applicability. I have developed a sense of autonomy in my work and the advice that I am giving, and independently advising has enabled me to broaden my communication skills.
Protect are currently campaigning for there to be legal aid for whistleblowers as they are currently required to pay for their legal fees personally. Whilst free and pro bono legal advice should not become an alternative to a properly funded legal aid system, because of the cuts to legal aid, their importance has never been greater.