Hayley Gore and Lauren Cooke, trainees at DLA Piper, explain how they and their colleagues provide pro bono services through the Princes Trust Legal Support Service.
What is the name of the scheme which you participate in and what does it entail?
Since 2010, lawyers from DLA Piper have provided free legal advice to fledgling businesses supported by The Prince’s Trust. Young entrepreneurs requiring legal advice in respect of their business can contact the service to receive free advice from one of our advisors. DLA Piper has provided over 1800 hours of advice and supported more than 700 young entrepreneurs through this service.
What benefits do you think the scheme provides to those who receive the services?
The support we offer has been integral to helping young entrepreneurs successfully grow their businesses in an increasingly difficult economic climate and at a time when youth unemployment is at a record high. Young entrepreneurs receive high quality legal advice to which they might not have otherwise had access.
What benefits do you get from participating in the scheme?
The scheme allows us to use our professional skills to help talented young entrepreneurs build a successful business so, not only do we have the joy of knowing that we are benefitting communities, the scheme also allows us to develop our professional skills such as interviewing, research and formulating and giving advice. The scheme allows us to advise on numerous varying circumstances which we would not otherwise be exposed to on a day-to-day basis, which is refreshing and keeps us on our feet.
What do you enjoy about the scheme and what do you find challenging about the scheme?
It’s encouraging to find out all of the exciting businesses young entrepreneurs from all walks of life are setting up and that, despite today’s economy, young people still have the opportunity to make their business dreams a reality.
As we have few limits on what we advise on, we can be faced with a legal area in which we, as trainees, have little experience. Despite this, we are able to use the resources available to us and ask experts within the firm so that this does not affect the quality of the service. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to help everyone who requests assistance, we do sometimes face queries that are outside our remit and when this happens we often feel disappointed that we can’t help the client.
What is the importance for you in doing pro bono work and why would you encourage others to get involved?
Through pro bono work we are given the opportunity to provide multi-layered support and achieve positive impacts on key issues of access to justice, education, equality and economic empowerment. It is only through participating that we can see the full impact of a difficult economy and recent reforms and the real difference pro bono work makes.
Pro bono work is not limited to one area of law, to one particular skill, nor to one section of the community – there are a variety of ways a person can contribute and we would encourage anyone to get involved in any way they can.