The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021


Society) in 2007. Since then, pro bono has strengthened and grown, and is increasingly seen as a key part of legal education. The benefits of pro bono as a student, trainee or pupil can include developing legal skills, such as interviewing clients and drafting letters; gaining practical research skills, based on real legal problems for actual clients; exploring practice in new areas of law; developing contacts and links to legal professionals, firms, charities and others; and making a contribution to your local community. There are different ways to get involved in pro bono as a student: • Legal advice clinics – your law school may run or be part of a legal advice clinic (including being part of the LawWorks Clinics Network, as below). With supervision (often provided by lawyers from the local community), pro bono activity may include drafting letters, researching legal problems and also providing face-to-face advice. In response to Covid-19, many clinics will continue to provide information and advice remotely. • Legal education for the public – your law school may have links with local community groups or schools interested in knowing more about areas of law or the legal system. You could research relevant topics and prepare for or contribute to presentations and workshops. • Student placement – your law school may not be able to support pro bono opportunities internally, but may arrange for you to volunteer with a local advice agency or community group. • Tribunal representation – the Free Representation Unit (FRU) provides a good opportunity for students to acquire advocacy experience. FRU volunteers help with case preparation and representation in tribunal cases (see p65 for more on FRU). • Internships with charities – legal and pro bono organisations such as LawWorks, Advocate , the Access to Justice

There is a long history of lawyers doing pro bono work, going back to medieval times and beyond; for many people, pro bono was the only means to seek redress or justice. Restrictions in the scope of legal aid and the impact of local authority spending cuts on law centres and advice agencies have contributed to a contemporary access to justice crisis, with those who cannot access legal aid and who cannot afford to pay potentially being denied advice or representation. Covid-19 will continue to impact on our lives for the foreseeable future, not least the longer-term economic consequences including expected higher rates of unemployment, debt, housing repossessions and homelessness, and more. The need for access to information and advice has perhaps never been greater. Pro bono is not, and should not become, an alternative to a properly funded system of legal aid – it simply cannot fill the vacuum and need caused by policy change and cuts – but it makes an importance and profound contribution to enabling access to justice. Any lawyer has the ability (with the right temperament and commitment) to do pro bono that makes a difference, whether you become a lawyer in private practice or an in-house lawyer working for a company, a charity, or in local or central government. You may have legal expertise or knowledge which can help an individual or a charity to resolve a legal problem. What you definitely will have is valuable training, skills and aptitudes that are readily translatable to real-life situations and problems. And you canmake a valuable pro bono contribution as a student, trainee or pupil – early experience of pro bono can instil a passion and commitment that lasts a career and beyond. Pro bono for students LawWorks launched its Students and Law Schools Project (funded by the Law



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