A student and aspiring barrister from Beaconsfield has been named as the nation’s most promising legal talent.
Joseph Kelen was chosen as the winner of National Accident Helpline’s Future Legal Mind Award 2020 after impressing judges with his ideas on reforming the laws around homelessness.
The 25-year-old will receive a £2,000 prize fund to help further his career and mentoring opportunities with experienced lawyers within the National Accident Helpline team.
Joseph said: ‘I was absolutely astonished to hear that I was the winner. The vagrancy laws are something which I have had a bee in my bonnet about for some time, so when I heard about the competition, I thought it would be a good way for me to help push the issue as much as I could.
I’ve been volunteering with the charity Crisis at Christmas for seven years now and have met people whose lives have collapsed for one reason or another, which is a social and a health issue – not a criminal issue.
When vagrancy laws are used, homeless people come out of custody with a criminal record, which makes it even more difficult for them to make a change in life.
When I was 17 or 18 years old I fell in love with the idea of going into humanitarian aid work, so I got my languages up to scratch and went to work in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
While I was there, I realised that some things were structurally wrong and there was only so much I could do, which is why my ambition is to be a human rights barrister.‘
For the competition Joseph wrote an essay and recorded a video in which he also spoke about humanitarian aid internships he had completed.
Joseph is now set to move on to vocational training which will get him ready to practice at the bar, having completed undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Cambridge, Durham and Warwick Universities.
Jonathan White, Legal Director of National Accident Helpline and one of the competition judges, said: ‘This year the quality of entries we received was higher than ever and covered a range of legal topics.
In his entry, Joseph spoke about government misuse of powers and a challenge to the vagrancy act, which he feels is completely outdated. His submission was outstanding and he is a very worthy winner.‘
Future Legal Mind is in its sixth year and previous winners have gone on to become barristers and solicitors.
*Source of article :Press release from the National Accident Helpline.