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Pro bono week in full swing across entire UK

6 November 2019

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Pro bono week 2019 has embraced the whole of the United Kingdom for the first time ever, in what has become an annual fixture in the legal sector’s calender.

The week in which lawyers particularly celebrate their pro bono work with special events began on 4 November with Scotland and Northern Ireland now taking part.

This year’s pro bono week was launched at the Law Society in London on 4 November by a panel discussion chaired by Joshua Rozenberg focusing on pro bono and human rights.

More than 30 events nationwide will take place across the week, covering four key themes:

  1. How legal volunteering makes a difference to the public and even lead to changes in the law.
  2. New developments and best practice in pro bono schemes.
  3. Showcasing pro bono work and the achievements of volunteer lawyers.
  4. Demonstrating the career value of pro bono.

Pro bono week has been running for nearly 20 years and gives firms a platform to showcase their voluntary contributions to local communities and charities who cannot afford legal advice and representation.

It also raises the profile of lawyers who give pro bono help throughout the year and creates opportunities for debate and thought leadership on pro bono issues.

It is not only law firms who are dedicated to pro bono work. According to The National Pro Bono Centre, more than a quarter of barristers of the entire Bar of England and Wales have signed up to volunteer through Advocate - including 85 per cent of all QCs.

Advocate is a charity helping members of the public to find free legal help from barristers

However, the pro bono centre emphasised that pro bono “cannot replace a properly funded legal aid system”.

Four days before pro bono week 2019 commenced, Patrick Green QC of Henderson Chambers told the Times his best decision as a lawyer was to take pro bono cases.

He said: “It helped me to love my job and to remind me why it might matter sometimes.”

Toby Brown, chair of the pro bono week organising committee, said: “We are really pleased with the breadth of events for year’s pro bono week taking place across the UK, which will bring focus and debate to the important contribution that lawyers make when helping pro bono.

“Many lawyers like myself have seen the real impact that volunteering can make to a client’s life, but also how it can help develop your practice.”

Meanwhile, LawWorks has announced the shortlist for its annual pro bono awards for 2019, sponsored by Lexis Nexis.

This year will also see a new category of Best International Pro Bono Award.

The shortlist can be seen here.

The winners will be announced on Tuesday 3rd December at the Law Society where President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale will give a lecture.

Law Society President Simon Davis said: “I am immensely proud to belong to a profession that makes such a valuable contribution to society, and plays an important role ensuring everyone has access to justice, by providing free legal advice to those who most need it.”

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