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The Sheffield Law Society has turned to academia for the first time in its 137-year history by appointing a University academic as its president for 2012-2013.

Anna Deans, a senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University, is also one of the first women - and one of the youngest at age 33 - to become the society's president.

Anna is urging the society to embrace pro bono work due to the number of people who can't pay for legal advice given the current economic climate.

And she also plans to offer more support to students who are starting out in their legal careers.

Anna, who practiced in commercial litigation at Sheffield firm hlw Keeble Hawson before becoming a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, said: "It is an honour to be the new President of Sheffield Law Society and to become the first academic president in its 137-year history.

"My current role at Sheffield Hallam enables me to supervise students in our University Law Clinic in providing pro bono legal advice to members of the public as well as the privilege of developing the talented lawyers of the future.

"Given the changing legal landscape and the opportunities provided by the Legal Services Act of 2007, it is vital that we embrace pro bono work and continue to evolve the law profession.

"It is the Society’s core aim to protect and promote the legal profession and by working together, we can retain public confidence and will be better equipped to face the changes to the legal services market.

"Pro bono work has long been a cornerstone of the UK legal profession which has a proud tradition of lawyers giving their time and assistance for free to fight injustice and to ensure representation to those who would otherwise be denied access to justice.  

"It is ever more relevant as legal aid becomes more and more restricted due to the difficult economic climate, as many individuals simply cannot afford to pay for legal advice."

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