Stephanie Pasquill is Senior Legal Counsel at Vodafone and joined Lawyers Against Poverty (LAP) in January 2021. She spoke with our Media Volunteer Emma Pomfret about her experience as an LAP member.
Your involvement with LAP is a bit different – you’re an illustrator for legal resources…
“Yes, I’m lucky that LAP has been so welcoming and enthusiastic about using illustrations as part of their work. I started when LAP was working with Peace Brigades International UK, an NGO working to protect human rights defenders on the ground. Emma Lough [LAP Director] asked if I could summarise a hefty report – From Judgment to Justice: Implementing International and Regional Human Rights Decisions – for the human rights defenders. As they are predominantly non-legal and non-native English-speakers, I suggested using a graphic – and Emma was on board with giving it a try.
“I created a couple of illustrations of the process whereby an individual can petition the UN’s Human Rights Committee [HRC] to review the behaviour of a state, and of ratifying states’ compliance with HRC Views.”
How do you do that in an engaging way?
“I start by sketching the key characters. In the earlier example, you’ve got the HRC, the individual petitioner and the ratifying state – who is kind of the ‘villain’ – and you bring them to life with their own personalities, supported by illustrations to tell the rest of the story, incorporating an understanding of legal principles and trying to ensure key messages remain clear – and memorable.”
You use illustration in your legal practice, how did that start?
“Originally it was just for myself; as a litigator, I’d have a pictorial summary of my cases at the front of every file, with animated Claimants and Defendants and key arguments. However, I found that distilling the characters and facts into an illustration was also helpful to others – some of my drawings were used as part of formal Instructions to Counsel, and even as part of a judge’s Bundle at the Royal Courts of Justice.”
What has drawn you towards pro bono work?
“I’ve always been interested in environmental and social causes. Having studied Zoology and Psychology at university, I then did a law degree thinking I might become a life sciences/environmental lawyer. I ended up qualifying in 2008 as a Commercial Litigator at Simmons & Simmons in London, which is how I first came to volunteer with the Legal Response Initiative (LRI) back in 2011. The LRI provides free legal support to countries particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and supports their efforts to implement the Paris Agreement. Delegates from Conferences of the Parties [COPs] can send queries to the LRI, and we engage a network of specialist barristers/solicitors to advise so the delegates are in a stronger negotiating position.
I’ve also done pro bono work for Advocates for International Development and the UK Centre for Animal Law [A-LAW], after having a ‘life-changing’ coffee at King’s Cross station with A-LAW’s Chairperson back in 2016. It’s fulfilling being able to marry my passion for animal welfare with my legal skills.
“I’m always keen to see alternative ways for how to use law for good. LAP’s been so welcoming – I haven’t got specific expertise in social justice but it’s not been a hurdle to getting involved – everyone can contribute in their own way. Who would have thought that drawing cartoons could support social justice?”