Why should I do pro bono?
As lawyers we should all appreciate the importance of getting proper legal advice. Individuals and organisations often lack the means to obtain legal support and access to legal services has becoming increasingly limited since widespread cuts to legal aid over the past decade.
Pro bono also offers opportunities for learning and development. Pro bono work offers a chance to work with clients outside the firm’s usual base, more client contact and often more responsibility, particularly to junior lawyers.
The Law Society has provided more benefits to pro bono work here.
How do I find out about new opportunities?
Please sign up here. The Pro Bono team will email opportunities from the NfPP every week. Should you need any more info about a particular opportunity, the Pro Bono team will also be happy to assist.
How do I work on new opportunities?
If you would like to work on an opportunity, contact the Pro Bono team and they will be able to submit an express of interest on your behalf.
What about conflicts?
Any potential conflicts should be checked and managed as with all fee earning work. For NfPP work, these will be delivered in conjunction with LawWorks once an expression of interest is lodged.
Clients on the NfPP come from all over the UK and require a wide variety of legal advice. It is unlikely that conflicts will preclude you from opportunities and certainly not all of them.
Do I need to record my time?
Yes. All pro bono work should be treated like any other chargeable work. Client and matter files should be opened and all your time recorded in the usual way. Not only is this necessary for our professional obligations, but provides the firm with helpful data on how much time is spent on pro bono work. Instructions will only be accepted if the relevant line manager agrees by reference to the nature of the instruction and capacity to take on a instruction.
Can I work outside my practice area?
You should only volunteer for work that you feel able to deliver a competent service for clients on. If you are interested in work that sits a little outside your usual practice or expertise, but it does sit within the firm’s, you may be able to take it on under the supervision of a suitable and more experienced fee earner.
If such an opportunity arises, you should discuss with your line manager.
I am not qualified – can I still get involved?
Definitely (with supervision). All in the firm are actively encouraged to take part in pro bono work and to take proactive steps in exploring opportunities that might interest them. Pro bono work can offer valuable experience in fee-earning work and allow juniors to develop hands-on experience a little outside their comfort zone.
If you are interested in a piece of work, discuss with your line manager to see who might be able to give you or organise the appropriate supervision of your proposed pro bono work.