Recognition for a career in public service for Christopher Naish – Lifetime Achievement Award in Pro Bono

It was awarded to Chris Naish, a family barrister of 40 years and former Head of Magdalen Chambers.

Chris was nominated for the significant amount of time he has dedicated to the Community Law Clinic at the University of Exeter in the past year and for his dedication to publicly funded and pro bono work throughout his career.  

When accepting the award, Chris said that he hoped to inspire the next generation of lawyers to take up pro bono work.

The Community Law Clinic is run by Co-Directors Kim McDonald (solicitor) and Natasha Bellinger (barrister) and a small team of supervisors and staff who provide pro bono services on a range of matters via the Access to Justice Clinic and the Immigration Clinic.  The Clinic seeks to plug an important gap where individuals cannot afford private legal advice but are not otherwise entitled to public funding for their legal issues. 

The Clinic (in partnership with Citizens Advice Teignbridge) has been able to offer family law advice for the first time due to Chris playing a large and invaluable part in its delivery.

Chris is committed to improving access to justice for all.  Chris has been a longstanding hardworking member of the local Bar in Devon, quietly delivering an excellent service to his lay and professional clients. 

In Chambers, Chris set the tone of public service by ensuring a commitment to legal aid was embedded into the constitution.  Chris also practised in all areas of family law with a significant publicly funded practice.

Joint Head of Chambers Rupert Chapman said:

“All at Magdalen Chambers join in congratulating Chris Naish on receiving this award. Chris’ commitment and contribution to chambers, the local bar and the wider community in Exeter has never been in doubt. Receiving this award is justified recognition of all he has done in a long and distinguished career. Chris’ work with the Exeter University Law Clinic providing support and guidance to students who will be the future of the legal profession and enabling access to justice for people who could not get it any other way is just another example of what we at Magdalen have always seen from him.”

For the University of Exeter Community Law Clinic, Chris (an alumnus of the University) has made a meaningful impact on their ability to see more individuals in need.  

Kim McDonald, Co-Director, said: 

“Family law advice had been an identified gap in the clinical provision and there was a clear local need. Chris has dedicated a significant amount of time to the clinic.  He guides students on how to give legal advice and draft advice letters, often for the first time in their careers.  Students greatly benefit from his years of experience.  The Clinic felt he was more than deserving of recognition and nominated him for all he has done for us.”

On Circuit, Chris has been a worthy adversary and well-liked member of the Bar.  

Jo Martin KC, Leader of the Western Circuit said:

I was really thrilled that a Western Circuiteer, and such a lovely Western Circuiteer, was rightly given this lifetime achievement award. It was thoroughly deserved, though his modesty means Chris does not recognise the impact he has had on the pro bono legal community.”

Congratulations to Christopher Naish!  We are all so delighted for him.

Natasha Bellinger
Co-Director of the Community Law Clinic
Joint Head of Magdalen Chambers

Read more about Magdalen Chambers here.