About us

The National Pro Bono Centre exists to support lawyers who want to volunteer their time, and organisations that provide legal help to the public for free through volunteer lawyers. Read on to find out about our history and how we are funded.

Our history

The National Pro Bono Centre was set up in late 2010 as a physical hub in which pro bono charities could share ideas, as well as running costs.

The launch event, held in the Royal Courts of Justice, was attended by the then Attorney General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP; the then Lord Chief Justice, the Rt Hon The Lord Judge; and the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly MP.

The work done in the name of pro bono is indispensable. It makes a real difference to people who need legal help but cannot afford to pay for it. I congratulate everyone who helped make this centre possible. May it be a great success.

The Attorney General

For 10 years, the National Pro Bono Centre was based in the heart of the legal community on Chancery Lane, established with support from the Bar Council, the Law Society and what was then “ILEX”. The NPBC’s initial sponsors included Linklaters LLP, FTI Consulting and Slaughter and May, along with many other law firms and barristers’ chambers, all of which recognised the increasing need for pro bono legal assistance.

The first three organisations to be housed in the NPBC were Advocate (then the Bar Pro Bono Unit), LawWorks (the Solicitors’ Pro Bono Group) and the ILEX Pro Bono Forum. Weekly meetings of senior staff built the foundation for more collaboration across the pro bono sector and the NPBC hosted meetings and coordinated participation in national networking events. The Centre was pivotal in helping to grow National Pro Bono Week, an annual event celebrating pro bono work and the people who participate in it.

By offering other charities the chance to hot desk and share meeting spaces, the NPBC expanded, welcoming more organisations keen to cooperate, including the Access to Justice Foundation, the London Legal Support Trust, Pro Bono Community, the Legal Action Group and the Litigant In Person Support Strategy.

In 2020, the office lease expired just as the pandemic began, which served as a timely moment to put in place plans for the future. From 2020 onwards, the NPBC has focused on supporting cross-sector initiatives and helping a wider range of pro bono charities throughout the legal sector in England and Wales.

Funded project:

Pro Bono Connect

Pro Bono Connect matches pro bono barristers and solicitors on civil matters for individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford legal advice or representation. Working together on cases enables lawyers to bring their different strengths and collaborate more effectively as a team to give the client the best possible service.

About PBCWebsite

How we are funded

We are delighted to have benefitted for many years from a close relationship with the Commercial Litigators’ Forum. Through an online Litigation Directory and regular sector-wide events, the CLF has endeavoured to make a significant contribution to the national infrastructure of access to justice through pro bono via its support of the NPBC.

CLF attracts sponsorship from suppliers of services to the commercial litigation firms. These include forensic services providers, technology providers, litigation funders, eDisclosure and document management platforms, translation agencies and interpreters, consultants, arbitration service providers, experts in construction disputes, forensic accounting and investigations experts, litigation public relations and crisis management providers, corporate intelligence, cyber investigations and IT forensics, damages and valuation experts.

All proceeds from CLF sponsorship and events go directly to the National Pro Bono Centre. Throughout the year sponsors engage with commercial litigators at CLF events and topic-based dinners, and with the active Associates Committee and the wider dispute resolution community.

The CLF is supported in this important project by GC100 (the Association of FTSE 100 General Counsel) and COMBAR (the Commercial Bar Association) and their support enables the programme of events, talks and dinners to thrive.