There are a number of ways that lawyers can volunteer to provide pro bono help:
Current opportunities for volunteers
See the National Pro Bono Centre’s volunteering portal.
Firms and in-house teams can apply to provide pro bono legal assistance through TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation global pro bono network. If you are new to pro bono or are looking to strengthen your pro bono activities, check out their Championing Pro Bono Guide for advice and tips.
England and Wales
- Find out if your firm has a pro bono programme. If not, set one up! The Law Society of England and Wales has a pro bono hub with a number of tools to help law firms and in-house teams plan, develop or maintain a pro bono programme.
- Firms and in-house teams can also become signatories to the Law Society of England and Wales’ Pro Bono Charter. The Charter is a public commitment by the legal community to promote pro bono opportunities throughout their businesses and shows support for access to justice.
- Finally, firms and in-house teams can also become members of LawWorks and have access to a range of volunteering opportunities.
- Please register to volunteer with Advocate (the pro bono charity of the Bar). There are cases in all areas of law suitable for second-six pupils up to silks. Whether it is advice, drafting or representation, your assistance will be invaluable to their applicants.
- There are also a number of duty “on the day” schemes where advocates can volunteer, for example the CLIPS scheme run by the Chancery Bar Association. Find the full list of schemes on the Bar Council’s webpage.
- You can read more specifically about CLIPS, the Commercial Court and London Circuit Commercial Court Pro Bono Scheme, the Employment Law Appeal Advice Scheme and the Personal Insolvency Litigation Advice and Representation Scheme here.
Connecting barristers and solicitors
If you are a barrister doing a pro bono case and want the assistance of a solicitor, or you are a solicitor and want the assistance of a barrister, the Pro Bono Connect scheme can help. Our vision is that joint barrister and solicitor assistance should always be available for pro bono cases, if needed. We have established a network of around 50 chambers and law firms willing to collaborate on pro bono cases and a simple framework to enable them to do so. We do not initiate new cases but facilitate cross-profession collaboration on existing cases. This leads to greater efficiency, less pressure on individual lawyers, a better service for the client and an increase in pro bono work overall. To find out more, visit our website or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chartered legal executives
For chartered legal executives, the way in which you can be supported to carry out pro bono work is changing. The CILEx Foundation is a new charity which aims to support chartered legal executives, and will shortly be engaging with CILEx members and our partners on future opportunities, current programmes and how CILEx lawyers can be supported to engage in pro bono work. For more information, or to discuss opportunities please contact the CILEx Foundation on 01234 841000 or await further information on your MyCILEx page.
The PILS Project’s Pro Bono Register (barristers, solicitors and legal academics)
The PILS Project manages a Pro Bono Register – a network of legal practitioners who are interested in undertaking pro bono work with the PILS Project’s membership. Opportunities range from writing an initial opinion to involvement in a test case, contributing to publications on public interest issues, and delivering training and talks to NGOs and legal practitioners.
The Bar of NI’s Pro Bono Unit (barristers): Find out more
Volunteer at a Law Centre
Local advice agencies rely on pro bono volunteers to support the work of paid staff – see Law Centres
Advocates in Scotland
Opportunities to undertake work pro bono are advertised in the weekly emails circulated to all practising members by the Faculty Secretariat. The Faculty’s Free Legal Services Unit website has general information.
Volunteer at a Law Clinic
The network of Scottish University Law Clinics (“SULCN”) offers free legal services across Scotland. Each clinic relies on volunteer solicitors assisting students to provide pro bono advice and representation to members of the community. The clinics operating in Scotland at present are:
- Glasgow Caledonian University Law Clinic
- University of Strathclyde Law Clinic
- University of Edinburgh Free Legal Advice Centre
- Aberdeen Law Project
- Edinburgh Napier Law Clinic
- The Law Clinic at Robert Gordon University
Law Centres and Advice Centres
The Scottish Government hosts a useful website providing details of local and National Law Organisations and Centres specialising in a variety of legal issues. All welcome pro bono volunteers to support their work: mygov.scot