Volunteers from the UK’s legal sector gather this week for Pro Bono Week 2022, which celebrates its 21st year.
This year, Pro Bono Week is hosted from 7-11 November 2022 and will examine how pro bono lawyers can tackle some of the most prominent challenges the UK is facing. The cost-of-living crisis, which poses a threat to access to justice as well as household budgets, is the focus of the official launch event on 7 November. Other events are expected to focus on how lawyers can work together on a pro bono basis to help combat climate change.
Pro bono work is legal advice or representation which is provided free of charge to those who cannot pay for legal services but are not eligible for legal aid. Pro Bono Week seeks to recognise, showcase and raise awareness of the work solicitors, barristers and legal executives across the UK do to help those in need. It also aims to encourage more legal professionals to undertake pro bono work.
Pro Bono Week 2022 campaigns include a range of in-person and online events, including our event for Wales, hosted on Tuesday 8 November at the Law Society Wales office. Scroll down for details of this FREE event, opened by the Counsel General for Wales, Mick Antoniw MS.
Pro Bono in action
Lawyers acting pro bono have made a major difference in responding to high-profile issues this year. Just some of the highlights include:
- In March, a major law firm welcomed the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, following six years of supporting her husband Richard Ratcliffe on the case on a pro bono basis.
- Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukraine Advice Project, established to give UK lawyers the opportunity to support those fleeing the war in Ukraine, saw more than 600 immigration specialists volunteering pro bono to help those seeking refuge in the UK.
- A major UK firm launched a cost of living advisory clinic, to provide pro bono help to those struggling as food and fuel prices surge, in partnership with local charities.
Barristers too are providing pro bono help, with data published by the Bar Council showing that 4,618 barristers provided pro bono help in the last year.
Lubna Shuja, President of the Law society of England and Wales, said:
“With the cost-of-living crisis leaving many people struggling, it is as vital as ever to shine a light on the important work lawyers do for free to help those in need of crucial legal advice.
“I encourage members of the legal profession to participate in events during Pro Bono Week and consider whether they too can volunteer. Of course, pro bono is not a substitute for legal aid. It is vital the justice system is properly funded and resourced so that access to justice is not determined by means or the lottery of whether you can find someone to help you on a charitable basis.”
Mark Fenhalls KC, Chair of the Bar Council of England & Wales, said:
“The annual Pro Bono Week offers the Bar Council the opportunity to celebrate and highlight the important role of barristers in helping those in need.”
Echoing Shuja, Fenhalls added:
“While pro bono support can never adequately fill the gap in public provision of legal aid, it often provides a vital safety net for individuals and families who are struggling to secure legal advice and representation. I would like to encourage all my colleagues across the Bar to offer some of their time and expertise to pro bono work.”
Stepping up for Pro Bono in Wales event: 8 November
Join Legal News Wales for our Pro Bono Week 2022 event, hosted with LawWorks Cymru, the Law Society Wales and the newly-formed Pro Bono Committee for Wales, hosted at the Law Society Wales office in Cardiff, with an introduction from the Counsel General for Wales, Mick Antoniw MS.
Our panel session will offer legal practitioners and law firms insight on the business and professional development case for Pro Bono and outline how even the smallest gesture of support in a year can make an incredible difference.
As the legal sector has moved into hybrid working, the opportunities to work with charities and clinics across Wales and beyond have excelled, making it easier to take part in Pro Bono, to work on matters with highly novel legal points and cases that also open doors for you and your law firm.
Hear from our panel and meet those with the opportunities as we gather in person in Wales this Pro Bono Week – followed by an informal networking reception at The Law Society Wales office.
For more information and to book your FREE PLACE, click here. All are welcome to join us.