Guest blog: Bar Pro Bono Unit reports to each chambers for the first time

22 February 2017

Have you ever wondered how much your chambers contributes pro bono? For the very first time the Bar Pro Bono Unit is shortly to send an individualised overview to every chambers that supports us, reporting all the ways in which they contributed to the Unit in 2016.

Heads of Chambers and Senior Clerks will receive a letter that sets out what your chambers has given to the Unit (nothing will be published publically by the Unit). We want every chambers to be able to properly celebrate the incredible contributions you make to access to justice through the Unit; whether that included financial support, barristers volunteering their pro bono expertise or both. This can then be used in chambers' own publicity materials or corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. 

As 2016 marked 20 years of the Bar Pro Bono Unit we wanted to get into the habit of celebrating the thousands of barristers who helped with over 20,000 applications received, whether as a reviewing barrister or by offering free legal services. 

We are lucky enough to have a panel of 3,800 volunteer barristers who have agreed to give three days of their time each year pro bono, as well as a group of over 140 barristers who are our volunteer reviewers. We now routinely receive well over 2,000 applications for assistance every year.

The volunteer reviewer provides a key step in the application process; deciding whether or not the Unit should accept the case. This important filter means that all cases for which we ask you for help have been deemed meritorious and the applicant without sufficient means. If you would like to join our panel please click here

It is now the time to renew your practising certificates through Barrister Connect, during which there is an opportunity to donate £30 to support the work of the Unit. In 2016 over 50% of the Bar donated in this way.

The impact of this funding for the Unit cannot be overstated, representing as it does around 50% of our annual income. For us to continue streamlining and digitising our processes to ensure support for volunteers and an efficient service to applicants, please do remember the Unit and donate £30 when you renew your practising certificate. 

Thank you to all at the Bar for your continued support of the Unit. Your impact is best communicated by one of our 2016 applicants who said: "My pro bono barrister gave me the voice I desperately needed."

If you have any questions about the Unit, your donation or volunteering, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Jess Campbell, Chief Executive of the Bar Pro Bono Unit