The award commemorates an exceptional barrister known for his work at the forefront of the protection of the rights of migrants and vulnerable asylum seekers.

By Mr John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Brigesa Ujkaj, a student on the Bar Vocational Studies course at The City Law School, is the first recipient of the Stephen Knafler QC Scholarship.

This Scholarship has been set up in memory of the late Stephen Knafler QC who was an exceptional barrister known for his work at the forefront of the protection of the rights of migrants and vulnerable asylum seekers in the UK

Brigesa says it is hard to put into words how grateful she is to have received "this life-changing Scholarship”.

“From a very young age I have aspired to a career in the legal sector. I arrived in the UK in 2017 as an asylum seeker, having left my country out of fear of being a target of human traffickers. From that moment I never thought I’d ever have the chance to get back into education due to my immigration status and language barrier."

"Despite being temporarily detained at Yarl's Wood, I successfully completed a law access course and an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) course. I applied for and was accepted to do a law degree at The City Law School. I was very fortunate to have been granted a Sanctuary Scholarship to begin the course and I completed it with a First Class Honours degree".

Brigesa then applied to be admitted to the Bar Vocational Studies course to continue her studies at City, “even though I had no idea how I was going to fund it.”

Thankfully, the university informed me about the Stephen Knafler QC Scholarship. I applied for and was granted the scholarship and it felt like a dream come true. This scholarship has made a major impact on my life and is giving me the chance to pursue a career at the Bar. I am very thankful to everyone who made this scholarship possible and who has understood my struggle - I hope one day I can make my own contribution towards this scholarship in helping asylum seekers who aspire to the Bar.

Professor Peter Hungerford-Welch, Associate Dean (Postgraduate and Professional Programmes) at The City Law School, said:

“The City Law School is honoured that the recipient of this Scholarship is chosen from amongst our Bar students, and we congratulate Brigesa on this award. Justice, and access to justice, are values that are central to The City Law School, and we thank all those who contribute to the Scholarship fund in Stephen's memory for their generosity.”

Tim Baldwin, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, said:

“All those working at Garden Court Chambers were delighted to hear that Brigesa has been awarded the Scholarship which was set up in memory of Stephen Knafler QC whose effective advocacy gave hope to the countless migrants, refugees and disabled people he represented. We are grateful to be part of the collaboration with Doughty Street Chambers, Landmark Chambers, Anthony Gold, LAG, Steve’s family, and all others who funded and developed this Scholarship and we hope will be the first of many.”

Paul Newhall, Chief Executive of Landmark Chambers, commented:

“Landmark Chambers is proud to support this incredible Scholarship in honour of the late Stephen Knafler QC. These Scholarships are of increasing importance in supporting people from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds.  We are delighted that the first recipient of the Scholarship, Brigesa Ujkaj, has been given the opportunity to pursue a career at the Bar.”

Sue Willman, a solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn and King’s College London’s Legal Clinic said:

“The Scholarship was set up in memory of Stephen Knafler QC whose effective advocacy gave hope to the countless migrants, refugees and disabled people he represented. We are delighted that Brigesa has been accepted for the first award, which we hope will be one of many. The Scholarship is funded by the Chambers where Stephen worked: Doughty Street Chambers, Garden Court Chambers and Landmark Chambers, as well as Anthony Gold Solicitors and lawyers with an interest in access to justice. For anyone wishing to donate for next year’s award please visit this weblink.”

Jamie Burton KC, Head of Doughty Street Chambers’ Community Care and Health Team, said:

“Steve was an inspiration to all of us and continues to be through the fantastic work of his bursary. Steve would have been immensely proud, as we all are, at Brigesa’s determination to become a lawyer and help others less fortunate than her. She is a great testament to Steve’s legacy and for that we are very grateful to all those who have and will doubtless continue to donate to his bursary fund.”

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