Legal advisor recognised for helping vulnerable wins national award
PUBLISHED: 17:39 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:40 21 November 2019
A Suffolk legal advisor's efforts to transform the fortunes of the county's struggling legal system has been recognised with a national award.
Audrey Ludwig, director of legal services at the Suffolk Law Centre (SLC), has secured the national Law Centres Network Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.
Mrs Ludwig's work introducing and maintaining the SLC, which is part of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality group, was recognised at the Law Centres Network national awards ceremony in Bristol.
The SLC was opened in March 2018 in Ipswich to help provide free legal advice to people in Suffolk who are either vulnerable or cannot afford it.
It was formed to help transform the county's reputation as a "legal aid desert", as described by Mrs Ludwig last year, and helped 2,300 people receive legal advice in 2018-19.
Mrs Ludwig has since helped secure funding for the SLC from a range of organisations, including the Legal Education Foundation, the Tudor Trust and Therium Access
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This includes more than £100,000 for the centre's clients via the National Lottery-funded discrimination casework service, Tackling Discrimination in the East, since its creation.
Suffolk had previously ranked bottom of the Legal Aid league table in the UK, but Mrs Ludwig's six years of campaigning led to the creation of the SLC last year - reversing the county's fortunes.
Mrs Ludwig said upon receiving her award: "It's been quite a struggle, but every bit a worthwhile one, to both set up and then grow the SLC into the vital legal lifeline that it is today.
"I'm delighted to receive this award, not on my own behalf but in recognition of the extraordinary team of lawyers and community partners who have ensured that what was once a legal desert is now blooming with legal advice and representation for those who so desperately need it."
Hamil Clarke, chair of the SLC's trustees, described Mrs Ludwig as a "Suffolk gem".
Mr Clark added: "She is both a visionary and a very effective campaigner as is so clearly seen by the range of services now being offered by the SLC.
"That Suffolk is no longer at the bottom of the Legal Aid league table is due to this legal justice warrior."