Access to justice charities celebrates Volunteers Week!
Barristers volunteering through Advocate (the new name for the Bar Pro Bono Unit) in 2018 gave over 10,000 hours of legal help, equating to just shy of £2.25 million in fees (if they had charged).
In Volunteers’ Week, Advocate launched their ‘I Do Pro Bono’ campaign to profile the experiences of some of the many barristers who undertake pro bono through them. The campaign is designed to:
1. Celebrate barristers who give their time and expertise for free;
2. Showcase some of the stories of who barristers have helped;
3. Highlight some of the reasons to do pro bono, including wellbeing, practice development and the chance to act in higher courts
“Try to imagine if you didn’t have a voice, if you didn’t have the skills and abilities to argue your corner or fight for what you thought was right. Those are the people who need us to be their voice.” – Colm Nugent, Hardwicke Chambers barrister, Advocate panel member and Volunteers’ Week Pro Bono Ambassador.
Pro Bono Ambassadors stories are being shared throughout the week via the Advocate website, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A quarter of the Bar, including 85% of all QCs are on the Advocate panel, but the charity is encouraging more members of the Junior Bar to join the panel. It has invested in a new Volunteer Manager, funded by the Legal Education Foundation, who is increasing support available to barristers on the panel, making it easier for barristers to take on pro bono work.
– In Volunteers’ Week Advocate Reviewers (senior barristers who review applications to Advocate for eligibility) received a very limited edition Advocate mug, inscribed #IDoProBono and with a special tag “Make a brew while you review!”
– Advocate Chairman Mr Justice Knowles wrote to thank every barrister who took a pro bono case through Advocate in 2018.
– Pro Bono Seminars have been hosted at Blackstone Chambers (newly confirmed as a Gold Pro Bono patron) and 3 Verulam Buildings (a Silver Pro Bono Patron) to encourage more barristers to join the panel as well as an inaugural New Panel Member breakfast at the National Pro Bono Centre on Chancery Lane, in the presence of Mr Justice Knowles.
The London Legal Support Trust (LLST) also value their volunteers. Rosa Coleman, says “Volunteers provide invaluable support throughout the year for the LLST. Volunteers bring a new perspective, ideas, enthusiasm, and knowledge to the sector which has a big impact.
Perhaps most notably for us, hundreds of volunteers help on the day of the London Legal Walk (this year Monday 17th June) to ensure it is a success. Route marshals, street party helpers, balloon blowers, and more, ensure that this fundraising event goes well; their generous support is hugely appreciated. The collaborative nature of the event is reflective of the close knit nature of the whole advice community that the Walk supports.”
Lawyers carrying out pro bono litigation can help others beyond their immediate client by ensuring that they apply for pro bono costs, says the Access to Justice Foundation. For example Adam Kramer, a barrister from 3 Verulam Buildings, secured £2,000 via a pro bono costs order by resisting a summary dismissal application and obtaining specific disclosure for an elderly Afghani lady, on her claim for around £70,000 said to have been fraudulently obtained from her. Andrew Walker QC, 2018 Chair of the Bar and Advocate Pro Bono Ambassador in Volunteers’ Week, referenced the first substantial pro bono costs order (for £20,000) which he secured in a Bar Pro Bono Award-winning matter he took on in 2009.
Pro Bono Costs are an important source of income for ATJF, enabling the charity to make grants to a wide range of advice agencies, and local Citizens Advice and Law Centres. In Volunteers’ Week, lawyers are reminded to seek pro bono costs pursuant to s194 Legal Services Acthttps://www.atjf.org.uk/pro-
LawWorks hosts its inaugural nationwide Clinics Conference in Volunteers’ Week, to bring together clinic coordinators, supervisors and volunteers from different sectors, organisations and specialisms to share good practice, exchange ideas, review the landscape and further develop the pro bono clinic community. Hosted in Birmingham, the keynote speech is from Corey Stoughton, Advocacy and Acting Director of Liberty.
Across the growing LawWorks clinics network in 2018 family law was the most common area of advice provided, followed by employment law. An amazing 10,383 students, qualified lawyers and other volunteers gave their time.