New Protect legal adviser, Phoebe Mather, discusses her experience volunteering for Protect and the opportunities it gave her.
I began volunteering with Protect when I was nearing the end of my Bar Training Course. Employment law has long been an interest of mine due to the significance for the individuals who bring claims but also the working public. I was drawn to Protect’s volunteering opportunities due to their work with individual whistleblowers but also my desire to explore whistleblowing law’s defining feature – the public interest.
Whistleblowing encompasses law, individuals, employers and regulators and that is why Protect takes its rounded approach to whistleblowing. After scandals and disasters hit the headlines, we hear time and time again that the people on the inside raised concerns but were ignored, victimised or were too scared to speak up. From advising individuals, to campaigning and policy work with parliamentarians to supporting and consulting businesses on their whistleblowing policies, Protect works to create a better environment for whistleblowers where one day, we hope, raising concerns will be viewed positively by everyone.
From my first day as a volunteer, I was given responsibility and my opinions and views were sought and valued. During my six months as a volunteer, I worked on several of Protect’s projects including helping to formulate a submission to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and writing a best practice guide for Prescribed Persons on the whistleblowing reporting duty. Whilst Protect’s focus is employment-based whistleblowing, I have enjoyed learning how whistleblowing reaches into many areas including the Official Secrets Act, corruption and economic crime – some of the biggest issues facing our society today.
I am now three weeks into my Legal Adviser training with Protect and will soon be advising individuals across the UK on how best to raise their concerns and the legal protection afforded to whistleblowers under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. In this short time, I have seen how Protect gives so much to society but also to its employees, encouraging its staff and volunteers to voice their interests and areas of work they personally want to be involved with. Individual and career goals are encouraged and supported; within my first week as an employee, three promotions and a secondment were secured by my colleagues.
With such a competitive legal recruitment market, law graduates can feel pressure to ‘do something to stand out’. Protect offers tangible opportunities to work on evolving legal policy at the forefront of society whilst being a flexible organisation that is understanding of volunteers’ educational and wider commitments. I would recommend anyone interested in law and society to apply to volunteer with Protect!