Domestic pro bono

  • LawWorks

    LawWorks The Law Society provides domestic pro bono opportunities and training through our partnership with LawWorks (the operating name of the Solicitors' Pro Bono Group).

    LawWorks supports lawyers to volunteer their professional skills to assist individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay for legal help and who are unable to access legal aid or other forms of financial assistance. LawWorks' main areas of work are in supporting firms to develop and maintain pro bono clinics and by running a brokerage service which matches community groups with firms.

    The Law Society has been a major funder of LawWorks since 2011.

    Find out more about LawWorks

    The National Pro Bono Centre

    The National Pro Bono Centre began in 2010 and houses the profession's national clearing houses for legal pro bono work delivered in England and Wales: the Bar Pro Bono Unit, LawWorks, and the CILEx Pro Bono Trust (CILEx PBT), alongside four other legal charities. It provides hot-desking opportunities for emerging pro bono charities, as well as administrative and accounting assistance to the established charities in residence.

    The centre is designed to be a hub for pro bono charities in the sector and supports the wide range of pro bono projects and brokerage that the charities support, helping individuals and community groups all over England and Wales.

    The Law Society sits on the board of trustees.

    Pro bono cost orders

    Did you know that you can apply for a pro bono cost order? These are like ordinary costs orders that can be claimed in civil proceedings where the successful party benefited from free legal advice or representation, for all or part of their case. Except, in this case, the funds generated by pro bono costs orders are directed back into the free legal advice sector via the Access to Justice Foundation.

    Pro bono costs orders can be claimed in County Courts, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and, since 1 October 2012, the Supreme Court. Applications for pro bono costs orders are made in the same way as a normal costs order and the court will exercise its discretion to determine whether such an award should be made and in what amount.

    Find out more

    The Access to Justice Foundation

    The Access to Justice Foundation is a national charity established in 2008 by Law Society, Bar Council, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and the Advice Services Alliance working with the advice sector.

    The foundation provides access to justice for the most vulnerable in society by raising funds and distributing them to organisations that support those who need, but cannot afford, legal help. It is the prescribed charity under section 194 of the Legal Services Act 2007.

    Working closely with the advice and pro bono sector, the foundation takes a strategic approach to the distribution of funding, accounting for local, regional and national needs. Funds are distributed to pro bono organisations, strategic regional projects and to local advice agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres.

    Professor Sara Chandler is the president of the Law Society's nominated trustee on the foundation's board.

    Visit the Access to Justice Foundation website

    Other interesting pro bono charities and opportunities

    CSR Legal Network

    The CSR Legal Network is a network of corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals working within law firms. It is a friendly forum where CSR professionals can ask confidential CSR questions amongst their peers and share knowledge, tips and know-how. The Network runs quarterly face-to-face meetings and an annual conference which covers all CSR topics, including pro bono. The Network is also able to assist with pro bono requests which have not been placed through other networks, and it is also a great place for people to ask questions about CSR and pro bono, as it regularly runs questionnaires and surveys among its members. There is a joining fee for firms and chambers but the Network has a good membership coverage of city, international and national firms.

    For further information please email heidi@csrlegalnetwork.com.

    Visit the CSR Legal Network website

    Free Representation Unit (FRU)

    FRU is a well-established charity that matches junior lawyers who volunteer their time with clients needing representation in tribunals. It represents clients in the social security and employment tribunals in London and the south east.

    Most of FRU's volunteers are law students, but qualified solicitors are also welcome (and may be waived some of the usual training and ratification requirements if they have relevant experience). Supported by FRU'S experienced staff, volunteers take individual responsibility for case preparation as well as the advocacy in tribunal.

    Visit the FRU website.

    Lawyers Volunteering for the Arts

    Lawyers Volunteering for the Arts (LVFA) was set up in 2012 by a group of London law firms who wanted to offer pro bono legal support to the arts community. LVFA aims to encourage solicitors to provide free legal advice to low income and not-for-profit arts and cultural organisations or community groups.

    Visit the LVFA website

    Pro Bono Community

    Pro Bono Community is a new charity, launched during National Pro Bono Week 2013 at the Law Society. It has developed a specialised training programme for law students, trainees and junior lawyers aimed at preparing them for volunteering in Law Centres and other advice agencies.

    Visit the Pro Bono Community website

    ProHelp

    Established by Business in the Community in 1989, ProHelp is a network of professional firms who are committed to making a difference in their community by offering their services for free to community organisations in need of support. It now involves more than 400 professional firms across the UK.

    ProHelp is the UK's only multi-sector professional firm network and as such both provides members with opportunities to meet with and work alongside other professions, and acts as a valuable 'one-stop' resource to community organisations seeking support.

    Read more about their work with firms (PDF 76kb)
    Visit the ProHelp website

    In all our activity, we stress that pro bono work is never a replacement for, and only an adjunct to, a properly funded legal aid system.