National Pro Bono Week is an opportunity for solicitors, barristers, chartered legal executives and law students to come together and celebrate the pro bono work that has been done through the year. We will be sharing know-how and considering how schemes can be developed and extended for the future.
Pro bono can never be a substitute for a properly funded legal aid system, and this week we also take the time to discuss how to meet the challenges facing our communities and the pro bono sector.
In 2016, with the launch of the Law Society’s Pro Bono Charter and Pro Bono Manual – alongside the National Pro Bono Week initiative to help connect those of you who want to do pro bono with organisations who need your support – we aim to galvanise the pro bono community in new ways, helping legal firms and practitioners to benefit from opportunities to extend their skills and contribute to access to justice.
Robert Bourns, Law Society President
At the beginning of my year as Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales, I stressed my commitment to recognising and celebrating the pro bono contribution of barristers across the country. One of the first things I did as Chairman was establish the Bar Council’s Pro Bono Board. Since the Spring, members of the Board have been working together to coordinate the Bar’s pro bono efforts and to collecting stories illustrating the Bar’s commitment to pro bono. Barristers continue to make a real difference to peoples’ lives by their pro bono commitment.
National Pro Bono Week (‘NPBW’) provides an excellent opportunity to recognise and celebrate the generosity of so many barristers, solicitors, and legal executives. In addition from the Bar’s perspective it is allows us to mark the 20th birthday of the Bar’s Bar Pro Bono Unit.
Along with colleagues in the Law Society and CILEx, I would like to thank every member of the profession for the pro bono work they do. I encourage others, who are able, to donate some of their time and expertise.
Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, Chairman of the Bar
Law is about changing lives for the better – and pro bono opportunities give professionals like us a way to help those who may not have the ability or resources to navigate their legal problems alone. Pro bono can never and should never be seen as the replacement for meeting unmet need, but as an opportunity to put your knowledge and skills to good use, and to make someone’s life a little better.
CILEx members have legal skills that can be applied in more ways than you might think, and Pro Bono Week 2016 will showcase the opportunities all around us to volunteer just a bit of our time to help others.
The CILEx Pro Bono Trust has its own pro bono project through which our members provide pro bono support in deserving cases. All our members have, or are learning, important legal skills which apply across all legal work: the ability to analyse problems, and understand and explain rules and procedures, becomes second nature to us – but is a talent which can be deployed even in unfamiliar areas. For example, even helping to fill out important forms can be of immeasurable importance to someone who lacks the skills to do it alone.
Doing pro bono does not have to be an exclusively selfless exercise. For even a small sacrifice of time there are considerable benefits which can accrue. While you should never give advice without being competent to do so, many CILEx members will find they are already well equipped to support work in the advice sector, and there is a wide variety of work which is badly needed but does not require expertise in a new area of law. Pro bono work can broaden your experience, help you move into a different field of legal practice, and introduce you to contacts that can help both you and your employer.
Want to host a local Branch event? The CILEx Pro Bono Trust has a training module which provides valuable information about the pro bono sector, and how to get involved in pro bono work. Besides offering guidance about the hugely varied ways of doing pro bono work, the module also meets your annual professionalism CPD requirement. The Trustees are happy to attend to deliver the module to a Branch or other members’ meeting and answer any questions. Those of you who want to volunteer through the CILEx Pro Bono Trust will be covered by their bespoke indemnity policy which covers all their volunteers for each piece of work they do.
Now more than ever is a good time to support Pro Bono work – you really can change lives for the better. If you would like more information then email firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Callan LL.B, President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives