The purpose of the scheme
The purpose of the project is to establish a network of barristers and solicitors willing to work together on pro bono cases for individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford to pay for legal advice/representation and for whom public or alternative means of funding are not reasonably available.
Pro Bono Connect builds on existing structures for sourcing pro bono work in a simple way. It is self-operating and enables any solicitor from a participating firm doing a pro bono case to request assistance from a participating barrister via the clerks (and vice versa). There is no requirement to accept a request, only to consider doing so.
If a request is accepted, the solicitor and barrister work on the pro bono case as a team.
The aims of the scheme
Our vision is that there should be joint barrister and solicitor assistance should always be available in pro bono cases. We aim to achieve this vision by providing a means for barristers and solicitors to collaborate effectively and efficiently in pro bono cases. Working together helps to:
- Make pro bono work more manageable and efficient by sharing the workload and using complementary skills of barristers and solicitors;
- Thereby increase the scope and volume of pro bono work taken on by solicitors and barristers;
- Strengthen existing solicitor/barrister relationships and foster new ones. In the long run, it is hoped that this will encourage greater uptake of pro bono cases by solicitors and barristers alike.
Pro Bono Connect does not initiate new cases- it only operates where there is already a barrister or a solicitor who is acting on a pro bono cases (but needs assistance from the other half of the legal profession).
From October 2019, Pro Bono Connect has been under the corporate governance of Lawworks (whilst remaining a joint initiative with Advocate). As part of this, Pro Bono Connect is collaborating with Lawworks to promote, expand and develop the scheme to enhance membership across the country and diversify the areas of law covered.
LawWorks (www.lawworks.org.uk) is a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice, who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay and with the not-for-profit organisations that support them. They work to enable access to justice for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.
The Pro Bono Connect Executive Officer at Lawworks can be contacted on [email protected].
Pro Bono Connect is run by an executive committee formed of Jamie Goldsmith, Andrew Lodder and Eleanor Campbell (One Essex Court), Valerie Robertson (Law Society), Marika Lemos (Devereux Chambers), Ian Simester (Sullivan & Cromwell) and Emily MacLoud (Etib Lab).
Please note that pro bono connect is unable to accept cases directly from the public. It operates a referral system to match barristers and solicitors on existing pro bono cases
For information as to how to find a lawyer, please visit the Advice Now website