Pro bono at heart of legal profession as 12th National Pro Bono week begins

4 November 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, is proud to support the 12th annual National Pro Bono Week, which starts today, alongside the Law Society and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). 

Pro bono work is at the heart of the legal profession, undertaken through a sense of duty to protect those who need legal services but cannot afford to pay for them. National Pro Bono Week is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution lawyers make, free-of-charge, to many people in acute need.

The Week, which runs until Saturday 9 November, also highlights the opportunities for pro bono engagement and exploring its role in improving access to justice.

The highlights of the week's events include:

  • The National Pro Bono Centre's Question Time panel discussion entitled 'Pro Bono: What? Why? Where', in association with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pro Bono, Monday 4 November

  • A drop-in session to learn about the Citizenship Foundation's Lawyers in Schools scheme, Tuesday 5 November

  • An International Senior Lawyers Project event to celebrate the work of their volunteers, Tuesday 5 November

  • The launch of the Pro Bono Community, an organisation that will recruit, train and accredit law student volunteers before placing them with Law Centres, Thursday 7 November, and

  • The launch of the final report of LawWorks' annual survey on the solicitor profession's pro bono activity, Thursday 7 November.

The week will also see the publication of an updated 'Guide to Pro Bono' and 'Pro Bono Yearbook of England and Wales', which recognises the progress, in this important area and seeks to assist MPs and advice agencies in how they can best access pro bono services for their constituents and clients.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said:

"National Pro Bono Week is a timely recognition of the huge amount of work which practitioners across the legal profession provide in order to ensure access to justice for vulnerable people, where it would otherwise not exist.

 "In a time of severe cuts to the legal aid budget, and with an increasing number of vulnerable people requiring access to legal advice, it is more important than ever to celebrate this exceptionally valuable contribution to society, and to encourage continued commitment from the profession."

Nick Fluck, President of the Law Society, said:

"National Pro Bono Week is always a highlight of our year, showing how important it is to help those who cannot afford legal help. Everyone should have access to justice and the Law Society is proud to be a sponsor of National Pro Bono Week. I would urge everyone in the legal profession to dedicate some time - however small - to pro bono work. There is lots of advice available on how to get involved."

Stephen D Gowland, President of CILEx, said:

"We have now begun to see the impact of the erosion of the legal aid system and while pro bono will never be able to fill the void it leaves behind, the legal profession's dedication to pro bono represents a strong commitment to access to justice."

"CILEx members have long recognised that pro bono work is part of being a lawyer and a recent survey has found that in the last 12 months, they have completed more than £1,000,000 worth of pro bono work.

"Like many lawyers I see pro bono work as a natural and normal thing to undertake, which benefits the communities we live in. Pro bono allows CILEx members to not only become better lawyers by expanding their legal skills and learning by experience, but enables them to help vulnerable members of society."



Notes to Editors

1.  A full calendar of National Pro Bono Week events around the country can be found here

2. For further information, please contact the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525, the Law Society Press Office on 020 7320 5764, or the CILEx Press Office on 01234 845 710

3. For more information on the Bar's contribution to society, please read the recently published ' The Bar in society: Barristers making a difference'

4. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board