National Pro Bono Week 2016—current developments in pro bono

National Pro Bono Week 2016—current developments in pro bono

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Sharing resources collaboratively, as well as a growing awareness that firms and lawyers gain invaluable experience and perspective from pro bono work, are just two trends emerging fast within the pro bono sector. As part of National Pro Bono Week 2016, Daniel Gerring, corporate social responsibility partner at Travers Smith, outlines what the firm has been learning and putting into practice as part of its award winning pro bono efforts.

What is the rationale behind pro bono work and what are some of the main proposals for National Pro Bono Week 2016?

Pro bono work gives individuals and organisations the opportunity to access legal advice which would otherwise not be available to them, or which would divert funds away from their essential needs or objectives. It also allows lawyers to develop a broader range of skills and experience than their paid work might normally extend to them and provides an opportunity for the legal profession to make a valuable contribution to society.

Since Pro Bono Week was launched by the Attorney General in 2001, the landscape has changed significantly. In particular, cuts in legal aid have placed increasing pressure on the system and now, more than ever, lawyers are observing a significant demand for pro bono work to help bridge the gap. The good news is that, in my experience, lawyers are embracing this demand, as well as a wide range of requests for help in other areas, and enthusiastically undertake more and more pro bono work.

Pro Bono Week 2016 celebrates this work and provides opportunities for solicitors, barristers and others to share best practice and foster collaboration. The launch by the Law Society of its new Pro Bono Charter and Manual—a statement of commitment that firms and in-house teams are invited to sign up to—looks set to be an exciting new element of this year’s Pro Bono Week.

What ways can law firms get involved and what more needs to be done to raise awareness?

At Travers Smith, we offer our lawyers a variety of ways to get involved with legal pro bono projects. These projects cover a number of different areas of the law and are frequently sourced through associations with, and referrals from, charities and local legal advice clinics. A few examples of our work include:

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