What is Bar in the Community?
Bar in the Community (BIC) is an initiative overseen by Advocate, the pro bono charity of the Bar, that facilitates barristers and chambers professionals to volunteer their professional skills to support not-for-profit organisations in roles such as trusteeships, training, workshop facilitation, mentoring and more.
Set up in 2000 and launched at the Bar Conference of that year, BIC has had more than 200 people register in the past year alone including barristers, clerks, and marketing professionals, with over 70 now connected with charities.
How does BIC work?
Unlike Advocate’s core work, which provides legal advice or representation, BIC acts as an invaluable point of access for charities wanting to utilise the skills of barristers and chambers professionals to help them in other ways.
BIC advertises the opportunities on its website and circulates them to those signed up to its mailing list. Volunteers then contact BIC to express an interest in their chosen volunteering role, and are connected with the relevant charity to apply.
What volunteering opportunities are available?
Opportunities available through BIC include trusteeships and governance positions, training and workshop facilitation, career-based mentoring, business support roles and more. Some of the most popular positions currently being advertised are:
- Volunteer Workshop Facilitator with the Schools Consent Project, a charity which sends lawyers into schools to teach students the legal definition of consent to help safeguard young people and drive down sexual offending rates
- Several positions with Lawyers Against Poverty, including their Legal Researcher & Content Editor role and Legal Confidence Volunteer role in which people work to educate refugees on their rights
- Barristers in Schools programme with the Bar Council
Why should legal professionals volunteer?
First and foremost, BIC is a fantastic opportunity for those from the legal world to give back to the community. With the cost-of-living crisis exacerbating social inequalities and driving many people into (or often further into) poverty, the skills of those from the Bar are invaluable to charities working across a range of causes who are in real need of support from people with their skillset.
Members of the Bar can make a genuine and much needed difference by volunteering their skills, and the benefit here is not only to the volunteer who can rest in the knowledge of the good they have done, but also with the wider community who will benefit enormously.
Secondly, the opportunities available gives volunteers an invaluable chance to advance their career, enabling them to build professional networks, learn or develop key skills, and gain important experience. The scheme has opportunities available for every skillset and every level, so these benefits can be found whether volunteers are just starting out in their career, looking to progress to a more senior level, or even retired.
Advocate works with more than 4,500 volunteer barristers, and is now the only pro bono charity providing access to legal assistance in all areas of law, in all courts across England and Wales.