February 2021 : Xuan Pollard, president of the Free Consultations Association.

We had the chance to talk to Xuan Pollard (on the right in the photo), who was recently appointed President of the Free Consultations Association (Association Consultations Gratuites) last month. This was an opportunity to find out more about her career path, the challenges that await her and her ambitions for the association.

Q. Can you tell us about your background?

A. I worked as a Solicitor in London from 1995 to 2015, as an associate and then as a partner in a firm. I went on to work independently and then with several companies and organisations including the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.

Q. When did you join the Free Consultations Association (ssociation Consultations Gratuites)? And why?

A.  I started as a volunteer in 2017.

 I was immediately interested in the project carried out by its members. As the name indicates, the association is made of solicitors or barristers who volunteer their time to give free consultations to French or French-speaking people in need and in difficult legal situations. We work in the fields of labour law and housing law.

Until the pandemic, consultations (lasting about twenty minutes) were held weekly (on Thursday evenings) in the crypt of St Mary’s Church, near Angel, London.

Q. What are your aspirations and ambitions with your new position?

A. I would first like to pay tribute to the work done by the previous presidents, Sybille Raphaël (president until 2018) and Florence French, who I am succeeding.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the association, as it has made impossible to continue on-site consultations. One of my priorities, along with the rest of the team, is to set up a system that combines video conferencing and face-to-face consultations in compliance with health standards. I am very pleased to announce that we will be able to resume face-to-face consultations in the near future (probably in the spring) at the French Dispensary in Hammersmith. We are very grateful to the Dispensary for hosting us. Details on how to get a face-to-face appointment will be posted on our website in the near future.

Another area I would like to work on is the diversification and broadening of our field of intervention. As I have just mentioned, we are limiting ourselves to labour law and housing law for the moment. I would like us to be able to offer our services in immigration law: I think this is all the more important in a post-Brexit context.

Q. What kind of challenges are you anticipating?

A. First of all, I think there will be many of them! But perhaps one of the most important will be the recruitment of new volunteer solicitors and barristers. It is always difficult to convince people to add tasks to their already busy schedules. So, if I have a message to pass on to those interested in putting their legal knowledge at the service of the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged, it would simply be: join us! Do not hesitate to write to us at consultgratuiteslc@gmail.com.

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