Advancing human rights and equality
through public interest litigation

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Staff

The PILS Project currently has two members of staff:                                       

 

Project Manager and Solicitor: Maria McCloskey

Maria is a solicitor and currently chairs the Law Society of Northern Ireland’s Human Rights and Equality Working Group. Prior to joining The PILS Project in 2022, Maria held the post of Immigration Solicitor with Children’s Law Centre, advising and representing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and child victims of trafficking.

Maria has considerable experience in policy and advocacy work across a range of human rights issues. She was Chair of the Law Society’s Immigration Practitioners’ Group from September 2017 until February 2019. In September 2017, Maria completed a Masters in Human Rights Law at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2018, she authored and published a policy document, ‘Best Practice in the Provision of Immigration Legal Advice Services’ on behalf of Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. From June 2018 to  January 2020, Maria was a Legal Consultant to Barnardo’s Independent Guardian Service.

In the earlier part of her career, Maria was a defence litigation solicitor and Associate Director at Napier Solicitors. She was awarded a Certificate in Advanced Advocacy in 2014 and is a member of the Advocacy Working Party of the Law Society of Northern Ireland. Maria also tutors on a number of courses at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies.

 
 

Project Officer and Pro Bono Coordinator: Emma Cassidy

Emma joined the PILS Project in November 2018, initially taking on the role of Project Officer. She is responsible for leading the Project’s communications work to raise awareness of public interest litigation and its impact. In 2021, Emma's role expanded to include the duties of a Pro Bono Coordinator, managing the PILS Pro Bono Register. This involves matching members’ needs with legal expertise and dealing with pro bono requests. In addition to this work, Emma assists with event organisation, office management and initiatives designed to break down barriers that prevent people accessing justice.
 
Before joining The PILS Project, Emma worked in Brussels (with ILGA-Europe, the umbrella organisation for LGBTI activists in Europe and Central Asia), Budapest (with PILnet: the Global Network for Public Interest Law) and Dublin (at FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres). Emma studied Economics, Politics and Law at Dublin City University and was awarded an LLM in Human Rights and Criminal Justice from Queen’s University Belfast. She is particularly happy to return to Belfast, having previously volunteered with CAJ, who are among PILS’ neighbours at Community House.