Whichever area of law you specialise in, there will be an organisation that needs help from you. Pro bono work can also help you to gain secondary specialisation in another field.
The Law Society has a Pro Bono Charter through which they encourage lawyers to sign up to demonstrate their commitment to access to justice. Signatories are invited to forums that shape the future agenda and also gain access to free membership of LawWorks for three months.
Once signed up, organisations promise to send annual impact reports, endorse the Joint Pro Bono Protocol and appoint a contact who is responsible for pro bono within an organisation.
It has also put together a pro bono toolkit to help firms develop a pro bono strategy and establish, develop or expand their pro bono practices.
This charity provides an easy way for solicitors to get involved in pro bono work. They do this through a number of pro bono programmes.
The LawWorks Clinic Network: provides free initial advice to individuals, predominantly in the area of social welfare law.
The Not-For-Profits Programme: connects small not-for-profit organisations in need of legal support with the skills and expertise of volunteer lawyers.
The Secondary Specialisation project: a pilot programme that trains and supports lawyers to provide in-depth advice and representation in under-resourced areas of social welfare law.
Digital platforms and projects: technology driven tools to match unmet legal need with pro bono volunteers, including the Pro Bono Portal UK (linking firms and in-house teams to pro bono opportunities) and Free Legal Answers (enabling individuals to request initial or one-off legal advice).
Legal organisations join as members for a fee and receive access to training programmes, wide-ranging resources, pro bono guides and updates, and volunteering opportunities.
The UK Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono is a profession-led initiative for law firms, with 80 participating members that collaborate with each other to improve access to justice through pro bono in the UK.
Membership is free and firms are asked to commit to adopt the aspirational target of 25 pro bono hours (average per UK lawyer, per year), attend quarterly meetings and submit data on pro bono each year. Member firms benefit from knowledge sharing, shared initiatives and professional development opportunities.
This is the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal service. It connects high-impact NGOs and social enterprises working to create social and environmental change with law firms and corporate legal teams to provide them with free legal assistance.
It has a community of more than 6,500 members in over 190 countries. Once a member, NGOs and social enterprises can request free legal support, and lawyers (including groups. in-house teams and individuals) can volunteer to work on projects that interest them.
Over the last decade, TrustLaw has facilitated over $225 million worth of free legal support for NGOs and social enterprises working to advance media freedom, foster more inclusive economies and promote human rights.
This global charity offers the opportunity for law firms and companies internationally to contribute to meeting the needs of the world’s poorest citizens acting as facilitators, matching international legal expertise with local need in more than 100 jurisdictions.
Legal partners include leading international law firms, barristers, in-house lawyers and legal academics. Membership involves organisations making a donation per lawyer in return for a range of pro bono opportunities being offered to A4ID’s legal partners each week. A4ID carries out comprehensive due diligence on all organisations requesting legal assistance, ensuring that projects are tenable and valuable and legal issues are clearly identified.
The Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) has its own pro bono committee which encourages ELA members to get involved in pro bono initiatives and offers access to a wide variety of pro bono work.
ELA runs the Employment Tribunal Litigant in Person Support Scheme (ELIPS). ELIPS provides online virtual clinics to litigants in person appearing before an employment tribunal. They are typically held on the first and third Thursday of every month and volunteers provide support in the form of one-off advice on the day of the clinic. Solicitors are covered by insurance through LawWorks and barristers through Advocate.
Law Centres offer legal advice, casework and representation to individuals and groups. Specialising in social welfare law, they have an in-depth knowledge of the issues communities face and use it to help people save their homes, keep their jobs and protect their families.
Law Centres exist all over the country and need both legally qualified volunteers and law students. They operate pro bono clinics in which volunteers provide advice under qualified supervision, for example, to extend reception times in the evenings. If you work for a law firm or are involved in your college law clinic and would like to work pro bono with your local Law Centre, their website has the latest opportunities.
This network of firms and chambers operates a referral system to match barristers and solicitors so they can work together on existing pro bono cases. Solicitors’ firms and barristers’ chambers sign up to the scheme and use their volunteers to take on work.
Areas of law covered include contractual disputes, civil fraud, employment, housing, bankruptcy/insolvency, property, and tax.
This charity improves access to justice by providing specialist training in legal advice and social welfare law in law firms to lawyers and trainees and in universities to law students.
PBC can tailor its training to individual clients’ needs and budgets with flexibility around venue, format, schedule, duration and content and can also organise volunteering placements or help to develop dedicated advice clinics at advice agencies if required. PBC can then help place newly trained volunteers in Law Centres and other advice agencies. Training courses are flexible in content, duration and depth.
Volunteering opportunities are advertised on their portal.
You can find further opportunities, ranging from legal roles to trustee and other non-legal volunteering opportunities on our website here. Be sure to check back often as new roles are frequently published.
Are you a retired lawyer? You can still get involved in pro bono. Giving your time and skills to provide pro bono advice in retirement can be of enormous value to those requiring assistance, as well as an equally rewarding use of your time.
With a wide variety of types of pro bono and volunteering opportunities available, you can ensure you find a commitment that best suits your capacity and interests.
We recently completed a project in collaboration with Advocate and LawWorks, to provide information on pro bono for retired barristers and solicitors. This addresses how retirees can get or stay involved with pro bono work, and answers many commonly asked questions.