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 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.
- Firms and in-house teams can become members of LawWorks and have access to a range of volunteering opportunities, training and support.
- Firms can also become a (free) member of the profession-led initiative UK Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono. Participating law firms collaborate with each other to develop their pro bono practices, sharing knowledge, experience, expertise and opportunities.
- The In House Pro Bono Group is a collaborative group bringing together in-house lawyers active in pro bono to share knowledge, best practices and resources. More information can be found on their website and LinkedIn group. Please reach out to the steering committee if you have any queries or would like more information.
- 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 over 100 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 email@example.com.
Chartered legal executives
CILEX Lawyers and those studying the CILEX route to law who are interested in Pro Bono work can contact The CILEX Foundation for information on how they can explore opportunities to use their specialist skills to provide accessible legal services. You can contact The CILEX Foundation by submitting a general enquiry form through your MyCILEX account.
Additionally, members of CILEX are encouraged to connect with their branches and keep up to date with news and opportunities published in their regular membership publications.
Business services professionals
There are around 30,000 high calibre business operations professionals working in the top 100 UK law firms, with experience in in-demand areas from HR to finance, marketing, IT, facilities and more. Fifth Day’s mission is to create a movement to ensure that pro bono is as valued and accepted among business operations professionals in law firms as much as it is for lawyers. Working in partnership with Reach Volunteering, Fifth Day connect skilled personnel in law firms with opportunities for rewarding trustee and pro bono work. Further, Fifth Day partners with law firms to promote and recognise the many benefits that skills-based volunteering brings. You an also follow their LinkedIn 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 advice centres
A network of independent advice centres rely on pro bono volunteers to support the work of paid staff – see Advice NI.
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