The power of pro bono: lawyers stepping forward when it matters

The power of pro bono: lawyers stepping forward when it matters

UK lawyers’ pro bono legal support for people affected by crises such as those in Afghanistan and Ukraine has been praised by Pro Bono Week’s organisers.

The importance of effective coordination of such a crisis response is one of six key focus areas for this year’s event, which is from 7th-11th November 2022.

“The profession can be proud of how quickly it responds in times of crisis and how lawyers step up to provide free legal help to those in need,” said Pro Bono Week organising committee chair Toby Brown.

This year there will be a mix of online and in-person events focusing on the free help given by the legal profession to those in need across the UK and beyond.

Over 300 firms, chambers, charities and associations will host events and activities throughout the week, using it as a vital platform to launch new initiatives and showcase best practice. Alex Chalk QC MP, the Solicitor General, said:

“I’m hugely looking forward to Pro Bono Week this November. It will be an excellent opportunity to celebrate the remarkable work done across the country by so many hardworking, talented and compassionate lawyers. No area of modern legal practice stands still for long, and I’m particularly looking forward to see how pro bono lawyers are using technology as they provide invaluable advice and representation to their clients.”

The six cross-cutting areas of interest for 2022 are:

  1. Lawyers stepping forward when it matters: Set against the outpouring of support from lawyers in response to the Afghanistan and Ukraine crises, Pro Bono Week will discuss how the response from different areas of the profession has been coordinated and can be delivered for future emergencies.
  2. The climate crisis is real; what can lawyers do? Following COP 26 the desire of many lawyers to tackle climate change is growing. Broad issues include pro bono schemes incorporating a net zero strategy, the voice of the community and the powerful interventions that can happen when clients and in-house teams are involved.
  3. How to make the business case for pro bono: Events in 2021 underlined the value of pro bono within recruitment and retention, to enhance lawyers’ skillsets and to enable lawyers to make a difference through the law. We look forward to firms and chambers highlighting the impact of their pro bono work and sharing best practice in pro bono.
  4. Can remote volunteering truly overcome geographical distance? Many lawyers appreciate remote volunteering, but organisations also stress the importance of going to where community need is located. What does a creative and strategic blend of remote and in-person support look like?
  5. Pro bono; an ally of funded advice: Coordinating pro bono so that it works seamlessly alongside funded legal help can be more effective than a solely pro bono intervention. This year the sector is invited to showcase examples where mixed interventions have had a positive impact.
  6. Specialisation; can lawyers be trained to meet the most urgent needs? Meeting the most urgent legal needs in our communities is a top priority but the skillset of lawyers with capacity to do pro bono work often does not match the area of need. Can secondary specialisation and investing in increasing supervisory capacity address these issues?

Jamie Lennox

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