National Pro Bono Week 2017 – LawWorks lecture

National Pro Bono Week 2017- LawWorks lecture: Pro Bono and the co-production imperative

17 November 2017

Sharon Cooper, CILEx Corporate Compliance Manager, reports back on LawWorks lecture held during National Pro Bono Week on pro bono and access to justice, and the theme of ‘co-production’ in justice systems and pro bono work.

National Pro Bono Week 2017: LawWorks lecture On a dark, starry evening in November, I travelled to London where I attended the offices of K & L Gates, overlooking St Pauls. As part of National Pro Bono Week, Edgar Cahn was presenting his revolutionary, but simple ground-breaking theory of Time Banking, arranged by LawWorks, and hosted in K & L Gates, New Change offices.

Working with Timebanking UK, who have been in existence for 20 years, Edgar explained to us the methodology and theory behind the Timebank movement, also known as Co-production. 

He said that Co-Production is about working together to build strong communities and through this, more effective social services. He gave an example based around Teaching. Often 3rd year students will rebel against adult teachers but may be more receptive to coaching on subjects by the 5th years, using a buddy system. That principle can be taken into almost every field of service.
He has seen significant success in Oregon USA where young offenders have a choice of a hearing presided over by an adult and adult jury or a law student and a jury of their peers. This has seen 54% opting for a peer review and since it was introduced, reoffending has fallen from 34% to 6%. 

Edgar then went on to introduce the concept of Time banking. Time banking takes the basic ideas of Co-production and builds on the fact that people naturally want to give back, to make a difference. With Time banking, giving back is encouraged. This philosophy has swept across parts of America and in the UK, is endorsed by the Department of Work and Pensions as a mechanism of increasing the skills confidence and self-esteem of those who are on benefits, and also local communities.

Edgar explained how CILEx members Pro Bono work could be part of a Timebank environment. If 1 hour of legal advice is given “for free”, in a situation where a Timebank is in place, the recipient of the advice pledges to give one hour of their time to help others. For example, teaching IT skills to a group in a local community centre, or visiting someone in a hospital or retirement home.

A simple scheme which can benefit many communities around the UK, there are presently over 300 timebanks across the country. They could be run in conjunction with food banks and/ or public legal education and health care initiatives. This is an interesting idea. More information about Edgar Cahn and his work in the USA can be found at

Christine Blacklaws, Vice President of the Law Society ended the evening with the last words from Victor Hugo “To love is to act’ she concluded “Activism and empathy are incredibly powerful together”.

The evening ended with delicious canapes and drinks provided by K & L Gates.