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Civil Litigation Section

The Pro Bono Charter: get involved

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The Pro Bono Charter was launched during National Pro Bono Week 2017. It is a statement of commitment from firms, ABSs and in-house departments to support pro bono. Rebecca Wilkinson explains

Over the past 12 months, 63 firms / in-house teams have signed up to the Charter, taking in a broad range of solicitors from across the country working across many practice areas. 

By signing the statement of commitment, law firms and organisations with in-house legal teams can demonstrate their commitment to improving access to justice for those individuals and organisations who are ineligible for legal aid and unable to afford to pay for legal services. 

Why sign up? 

Law firms and in-house teams are encouraged to sign up to the Charter. It is an excellent opportunity to highlight your firm or organisation’s pro bono work, and join a community of solicitors interested in access to justice. 

Signatories will:

  • have access to additional tools and information
  • become a member of the Pro Bono Charter online forum
  • be invited to attend Law Society pro bono forums
  • have the opportunity to lead and shape the pro bono agenda
  • receive a regular Law Society newsletter
  • be included, when appropriate, as case studies in the biennial report
  • be eligible for nomination for the Law Society’s Pro Bono Excellence Award
  • be eligible for a three-month trial membership with LawWorks, the solicitors’ pro bono group, including access to its online information and resources. 

What does the statement of commitment say? 

The Statement of commitment says: 

‘We believe that a commitment to access to justice is at the heart of the legal profession and that pro bono work, as one method of achieving this, is an integral part of the working lives of solicitors. 

‘Pro bono legal work is always only an adjunct to, and not a substitute for, a proper system of publicly funded legal services. Pro bono acts as an adjunct to state funded services, which provides an exceptionally important contribution to society, helping many vulnerable people, families on lower incomes, charities and international communities, whose legal needs would otherwise be left unmet. 

‘We recognise that at all stages throughout their career, solicitors have the capacity to use their professional expertise to help those with legal needs and we will strive to encourage a commitment to pro bono throughout the solicitor profession.’ 

What are the aims of the members? 

The Charter brings together a community of pro bono solicitors, to help them: 

  • strive to achieve best practice in their pro bono work, for individuals and organisations who require legal advice in order to access justice, but cannot afford it
  • support the development of best practice in pro bono by sharing examples of practical activities and advice, as appropriate
  • work with other Charter signatories to develop and adopt future protocols and best practice guidance that support the practical implementation of the Charter’s aims 
  • endeavour to contribute a biennial report on pro bono (eg by providing data and/or case studies). 

What are the requirements? 

There are no requirements for joining the Charter, no fees nor any hurdles to cross. As a minimum sign of commitment to pro bono, we ask that signatories commit to having, or developing, a pro bono policy (which we can help you with by providing templates of policies used in other firms), having an identified ‘pro bono contact’ (for communication with the Law Society), and having endorsed the Joint Pro Bono Protocol (a profession-wide protocol developed by the Attorney General’s pro bono committee). 

For enquiries about the charter, please contact Rebecca Wilkinson (020 7316 5662), pro bono and public legal education policy adviser. 

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