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Solicitors’ pro bono work 2013

7 November 2013

A random sample of 1,506 practising certificate (PC) holders were interviewed by telephone during June to August 2013. Solicitors were asked about different aspects of their working lives and about any pro bono work they may have undertaken.

Summary of results 

PC holders conducting pro bono work

Over two-fifths (44 per cent) of PC holders had undertaken at least one hour of pro bono work (using the Pro Bono protocol definition) in the twelve month period prior to the survey, a slight increase on the 40 per cent of PC holders providing pro bono services in 2012.

Private practice remains the largest source of pro bono solicitors -however the proportion of government and in-house solicitors providing pro bono work increased five percentage points respectively on 2012 figures.

In 2013, an equal proportion of assistant/associate and solicitors at partnership level provided pro bono services. The proportion of assistant/associate solicitors providing pro bono services increased significantly from 36 per cent in 2012 to 45 per cent in 2013.

Number of pro bono hours provided

The average number of pro bono hours (using the mean) worked by PC holders over the past year was 45 hours, representing a decrease on the 47 hours reported in 2012.

Not only were a higher proportion of in-house solicitors providing pro bono services in 2013 compared to their counterparts in 2012, this group were also providing more hours of pro bono work. The average number pro bono hours worked increased from 25 hours in 2012 to 35 hours in 2013. Similarly, the average number of hours conducted by solicitors in government over the last twelve months had increased from 25 hours in 2012 to 29 hours in 2013.

Financial value of pro bono work

The estimated value of pro bono work across all private practice solicitors is £488m, equivalent to approximately 2.1 per cent of the total turnover generated by solicitor firms. This represents a decrease in the value of pro bono work provided in 2012 and a reduction in terms of proportion of total turnover.

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