The annual Pro Bono Week programme turned 21 this year and to mark Pro Bono Week 2022, Legal News Wales, LawWorks Cymru and The Law Society Wales office hosted an event to inspire, encourage and inform legal professionals in Wales about the diverse and engaging opportunities to participate in Pro Bono – whether you have one hour to spend per year or much more.
Pro Bono Week 2022 took place from 7 – 11 November 2022. It offered an opportunity to recognise and support the voluntary contribution made by the legal profession across the UK in giving free legal help to those in need and to highlight the many ways that you and your legal practice can engage in pro bono.
Our event – hosted at The Law Society Wales office attracted managing partners and directors, junior lawyers, charities, law clinics, academics, senior and junior lawyers and representatives from Welsh Government, and highlighted the diverse Pro Bono opportunities in Wales – and the personal reasons and business case examples for taking part.
Thanks to the move to hybrid or even fully remote clinics, virtual pro bono support, and a wider reach and remit for law clinics in Wales, we felt it was time to explain how even ‘time-poor’ yet passionate legal professionals can get involved in Pro Bono and do the work they enjoy – while breaking a few myths and introducing attendees to some exciting projects across the nation.
Stepping up – the challenges & opportunities
The Counsel General for Wales, Mick Antoniw MS, welcomed guests and set the scene for access to justice and the Welsh Government’s work ahead to support communities and the legal profession. He said:
“Pro bono legal work is a lifeline to the people most in need. I want to thank Welsh lawyers for their time undertaking pro bono work, for the vital support they give people in need such as survivors of domestic abuse and those seeking refuge in Wales from the invasion of Ukraine.”
He highlighted the Welsh Government Single Advice Fund services – ‘a lifeline’ for many people struggling with the cost-of-living helping them to maximise their income and manage their debts. The Welsh Government has also extended the EU Citizens Advice Service. However, he stressed that pro bono legal advice is not supposed to replace legal aid.
“But I am also very clear that pro bono work cannot be a substitute for legal aid. We continue to suffer from a justice system starved of cash by the UK Government, and I will continue to call on the new Justice Secretary to fund legal aid properly.”
For more information on the Welsh Government Single Advice Fund services, click here.
A panel session, led by Emma Waddingham, Editor, Legal News Wales, followed and we recorded the event in full, to enable those who couldn’t join, to hear whats changed in Pro Bono in Wales, why and how you can take part and to share examples of some unexpected personal development and business benefits.
A list of speakers and the signposting links to LawWorks Cymru, Pro Bono Week and the opportunities mentioned in the event – and more, can be found under the audio player.
- Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General for Wales & Minister for the Constitution
- Dr Ola Olusanya, Veterans Legal Link & Director of Learning and Teaching (Department of Law and Criminology) at Aberystwyth University
- Jonathan Williams, Solicitor at Watkins & Gunn & volunteer at Cardiff Lawyers Care
- Hussein Said, Consultant, Asylum Justice
- Samuel Bass, Associate Solicitor at Newfields & volunteer at Asylum Justice
- David White, Clinic Support & Development Officer (Wales) at LawWorks
Want to know more?
If anyone would like to discuss how to get involved in pro bono work in Wales, please contact David White, head of engagement at LawWorks Cymru, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, on: 07921 462463.
Current pro bono opportunities
- Existing pro bono legal advice clinics in Wales: click here for more . LawWorks welcomes more lawyer volunteers in a range of legal areas. These include clinics highlighted at the pro bono event: Cardiff Lawyers Care Homelessness clinic; LGBTQ+ Law clinic; Veterans Legal Link.
- Cardiff Lawyers Care: Founded by Cardiff & District Law Society and a group of lawyers from the area, committed to providing pro bono initial legal help and support to people experiencing homelessness in Cardiff. It works with LawWorks, the University of South Wales Law Clinic and various charities. If you’re a lawyer inspired by #probonoweek to volunteer please contact email@example.com
- LGBTQ+ Law Clinic: Established in 2021, The LGBTQ+ Law Clinic, is one of the only services in the United Kingdom that provides free legal advice to the LGBTQ+ community. With help from volunteer lawyers and law firms, we are able to provide many of the most vulnerable in society with qualified and professional legal advice and representation. Click here – or contact Hussein Said – for more.
- Asylum Justice: The only charity in Wales offering free legal advice, assistance and representation to asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants. Click here for more.
- Veterans Legal Link: VLL links free legal advice and specialist support services with veterans and their families throughout Wales. In certain circumstances, we can also assist you with case work where required. We rely on an extensive network of volunteer legal clinics, charities and organisations to find you the support that you need, when you need it. We routinely signpost to peer mentors, mental health support and specialist advice services, working with both the largest and smallest collectives in Wales. Click here for more or contact David White at LawWorks.
- ACE Action in Caerau & Ely, a community organisation based in Ely: click here for more. This organisation offers the potential to be part of a partnership pilot initiative which will explore the health and wellbeing benefits of receiving legal support. It’s one of LawWorks Cymru’s aims to combine legal advice with health & social care provision. In this instance, it would be the first legal advice clinic in Wales working in partnership with ACE, Macmillan and the local Cardiff South West Primary Care Cluster.
- Kinship (formerly Grandparents Plus), which is looking to support kinship carers with legal advice. Click here for more.
- Women Connect First: click for more. Women Connect First is interested in hosting awareness session for beneficiaries on the topics of Wills, Mental Capacity Act, Lasting Powers of Attorney (the different types, obstacles, limitations, benefits) and also Court of Protection. It would welcome a presentation to their service users, possibly with a resource as a crib sheet as a resource. This could be simply one or two sessions, or it might lead to a longer term relationship with the charity. It is also looking for help with family cases, child contact and arrangements, housing disrepair and benefits appeals.
- Law schools are actively engaged in pro bono work. They work with firms of solicitors and individuals to advise clients and supervise students’ advice. If you’re unsure who to contact, please email David White at LawWorks via the contact details listed above.
- The Online Employment Tribunal Litigants in Person Support Scheme (Online ELIPS) has a vacancy for the ELIPS representative for Wales (open to ELA members). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
- The North & Mid Wales Legal Advice clinic partnership (seven Citizens Advice branches in North & Mid Wales, and Bangor University) supports Litigants in Person with advice and casework in the areas of Family Law, Employment Law, and Powers of Attorney and Deputyship.
- North Wales Law Centre Steering Group aims to launch a new Law Centre next Spring and would be pleased to speak to potential volunteers to partner for pro bono work. Click here for more.
The list of opportunities is not exhaustive! Lawyers could get involved in any area which interests them. From previous years LawWorks Pro Bono Awards you will see the types of projects that firms and organisations are involved in. We would be happy to help find partner organisations if this helps.
Law Works Cymru – how it works
LawWorks Cymru can provide free access to all of its services. LawWorks membership for firms is currently free in Wales, as it is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.
Opportunities to engage in pro bono via LawWorks, and its services, include:
- Not-for-Profits Programme: which supports smaller charities in need of specific legal advice and provides opportunities for lawyers to help charities;
- Secondary specialisation programme providing opportunities to undertake end-to-end casework for individuals;
- Help with setting up a pro bono clinic from a dedicated clinic support team, and information about opportunities in clinics;
- Legal and professional skills training; including access to online training resources, videos and other information;
- LawWorks Pro Bono Awards which recognise and celebrate achievement in legal pro bono undertaken by organisations and individuals in England and Wales;
- Access to a suite of specialist resources; including regulatory guidance, and access to Lexis Nexis PSL;
- A weekly news and information bulletin, LawWorks Weekly, LawWorks Quarterly and other updates;
- Involvement in our policy and advocacy work on access to justice, law reform and legal education;
- Other stakeholder, networking and engagement events, for example events in National Pro Bono Week, clinics roundtables and InfoExchanges, etc;
- Free Legal Answers – mentioned in the event – an online legal tech platform, which focuses on providing initial legal advice to clients on low incomes.
- Pro Bono Connect scheme which matches solicitors and barristers acting pro bono on civil matters for individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford legal advice or representation.
Visit the LawWorks Cymru web page for more information, or please contact David White directly.
About Pro Bono Week 2022
More information on the six key themes of Pro Bono Week 2022 can be found here.
The full list of events taking place across the UK from 7 -11 November 2022 can be found here.