Are you ready to get involved with a pro bono project? Have a look at the JLD committee’s top tips for getting started.
- See if your university, college or law school run their own Pro Bono clinic or programme. Most law schools now offer their students the chance to get involved in pro bono work from day one. Ask your tutor about opportunities.
- If there is no programme already established, put some pressure on your college to start up a clinic. The more people you have to start up a group the better. LawWorks can assist with starting up a new clinic.
- Look for pro bono volunteering opportunities outside of the law school. Many other organisations provide pro bono advice or require pro bono assistance themselves. Organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau have established clinics in towns and cities and many will welcome law students. Local charities may also appreciate the assistance of legal minds from time to time. It may be a case of trial and error, but stick with it and you will reap the rewards.
- Before signing up for voluntary work be aware of what commitment is required of you. Do not commit to a position if you are unable to fulfil your obligations, in both time and energy.
Trainees and qualified solicitors
- Check to see if there is a LawWorks clinic already established in your area. You can check this at http://www.lawworksclinics.org.uk/index.htm
- If there is no clinic in your local area, get in touch with the local Citizens Advice Bureau. Alternatively, the local council may have a list of pro bono advice providers in the region.
- Consider starting up a clinic yourself. Often law firms will provide support in establishing a clinic and populating it with qualified lawyers keen to make a good impression. Get a partner to campaign on your behalf and show commitment to it. If your firm is not able to support you, contact LawWorks and see what they can do to help.
- Do not commit to what you cannot do . Treat pro bono work as if it is paid work. Your level of professionalism, commitment and attention to detail should be of the very highest standard. If you cannot commit to your clients you should not be taking on projects.
- Good client care is often even more essential in pro bono work. You will often be advising people who have no experience of the legal system or of lawyers at all. Treat everyone with respect and dignity.
- Enjoy it! Although it may be hard work at times, pro bono work is ultimately very rewarding.