Mary-Rachel McCabe shortlisted for Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year
Every year, Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit) facilitates awards for chambers, barristers and chambers’ staff members in recognition of their outstanding commitment to pro bono work.
The Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year award recognises “the commitment to pro bono work demonstrated by young barristers in recent years” and “celebrates a barrister at the beginning of their career showing exceptional dedication to increasing opportunities for access to justice.”
Mary-Rachel has dedicated a significant period of time to pro bono work over the last year, including by acting as junior counsel (led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC) on a case of international importance brought by the family of an Irishwoman who emigrated to England in the 1950s, Margaret Keane. Mrs Keane’s family appealed against a May 2020 ruling of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Coventry which had denied them a gravestone of their choice over their mother’s grave. The Court of Arches confirmed that the decision of the Chancellor not to permit the family’s inscription in Irish-only (without an English translation) was irrational under the common law, and in breach of the family’s right not to be discriminated against under the Human Rights Act. The case attracted substantial attention in Ireland, Britain and internationally, and it addresses important issues for immigrant communities on maintaining their culture and their language.
Mary-Rachel also acted as junior counsel (led by Aswini Weereratne QC) for RESPOND in a case heard by the Supreme Court in July 2021, A Local Authority v JB (by his litigation friend, the Official Solicitor), a landmark case which is considering the test for capacity to engage in sexual relations under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Judgment is awaited.
Mary-Rachel sits on the Board of the charity, KIDS, where her pro bono work over the past 18 months - a time of particular challenges for disabled children given Covid-19 and lockdowns – has been of vital importance. She is also the chair of Doughty Street Chambers’ Wellbeing Committee. In this role, Mary-Rachel recently hosted a discussion about Legal Action Group’s ground-breaking book, ‘Vicarious Trauma in the Legal Profession’ and she has undertaken substantial work on supporting junior barristers, solicitors and paralegals in developing a sustainable approach to practising in legal aid.