National Pro Bono Week 2016
Joint Press Release: Lawyers volunteer millions of hours of free legal advice for the public good
04 November 2016
Every year lawyers across England and Wales volunteer nearly two million hours of free legal advice to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
National Pro Bono Week, 7-11 November 2016, is a nationwide campaign of events to celebrate the free legal services provided by the legal profession to those who would otherwise be unable to get the legal advice they need. However, pro bono legal work is not a substitute for an effective system of publicly funded legal services. The Latin expression pro bono publico means for the public good.
On 7 November, to meet demand, the National Pro Bono Centre is launching an online matching service that will connect lawyers with organisations across England and Wales that provide pro bono services and need more legal experts.
Law Society of England and Wales president Robert Bourns said:
“Solicitors provided an estimated 1.4 million hours of pro bono legal advice to individuals, charities and community groups in England and Wales in 2015. All this free advice is given on a voluntary basis, reflecting solicitors’ commitment to their clients, the communities in which they live and work and to our wider society.
“This National Pro Bono Week the Law Society is launching our Pro Bono Charter and Manual – the go-to guide for solicitors wishing to begin or grow their pro bono work. I am immensely proud to belong to a profession that contributes its expertise voluntarily for the public good on such an unparalleled scale.”
Chairman of the Bar Council, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said:
‘National Pro Bono Week is an important initiative. It recognises the valuable contribution legal professionals make by helping those in need of legal support. A belief in the need to ensure access to justice for all in society is part of the Bar’s DNA. This commitment is reflected in the Bar’s pro bono contribution. More than 3600 barristers, including a third of all QC’s, have volunteered to represent individuals on a pro bono basis through the Bar Pro Bono Unit. This Unit receives no public funding and depends on donations. Over half of all practising barristers make a financial contribution to the Bar Pro Bono Unit. The Bar’s pro bono work isn’t limited to the Unit.
Many barristers give freely of their time to help those in need of representation through many other initiatives such as the Free Representation Unit and the Employment Tribunal and Chancery Bar Litigant in Person Support Schemes. At the Bar Council we set up the Bar Pro Bono Board earlier this year as a hub for the profession to provide support for pro bono initiatives, to collate information about the Bar’s pro bono endeavours and to increase awareness about the profession’s commitment.”
President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Martin Callan said:
“The CILEx Pro Bono Trust has its own pro bono project through which our members provide pro bono support in deserving cases. National Pro Bono Week provides an important platform for all lawyers to collaborate and celebrate their working relationship.”
Ahead of National Pro Bono Week, representatives from CILEx, the Law Society and the Bar Council discuss the importance of pro bono work carried out by the legal profession, consider their experiences of doing pro bono and outline ways for individuals to get involved. You can watch the video here.
View the full calendar of events: www.nationalprobonocentre.org.uk/national-pro-bono-week-2016/