It can be difficult to gain valuable experience so early in your career, but there are many organisations that can use your skills and give you practical experience to help you get started.
The first point of call for any student wanting to carry out pro bono work is to find out whether your university or law school has a legal advice clinic. These are commonly found in educational institutions and will be overseen by supervising solicitors and/or lecturers.
They provide a great introduction to the skills needed to become a lawyer (note-taking, evidence gathering, advice drafting) as well as providing much-needed free advice to the local community.
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, you can get involved.
Based in London, FRU works in two areas of law: social security and employment. Volunteers include law students who have finished their LLB or GDL and CILEX students who have completed their level 6 diploma.
FRU volunteers take on cases that have been referred from front-line advice agencies. When a case is referred, it will have already been presented to the relevant tribunal, who will have listed a hearing. To become a volunteer, you must attend a training day, pass a test to assess your competence, observe a tribunal and attend an office induction.
All volunteers are supervised by qualified legal officers.
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 has worked with a range of universities all over England and Wales, enabling students to excess high quality, practical training followed by the possibility of a placement in a legal advice agency.
Operating from various courts around the country and with a national helpline, Support Through Court volunteers help litigants in person to navigate the court process.
Volunteers support in varied ways by explaining how the court works, helping to fill in court forms and organise court papers, helping clients plan what they want to say in court and even attending court hearings with them.
It is an ideal way for law students to get hands-on experience of working with the public and become familiar with litigation and the court system. Practising lawyers cannot volunteer, so the charity relies on students and retired professionals.
Applicants must be aged 18 or over with relevant skills, experience and time such as experience of working with people, a good command of spoken and written English, initiative, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills, and ommon sense, compassion and reliability.
Volunteers must be available a minimum of two days per month for a minimum of a year.
Initially launched in Scotland in 2020, probonoskills.com is an e-learning provider that gives students who do pro bono access to bespoke training materials that are designed to make them better able to advise and represent those in need of free legal help.
The platform provides a library of videos covering everything from common legal issues that students advise on, to cross-examination, mediation and wellness.
A rollout to England and Wales is expected in 2023 and will have many new features added to it, including: