Pro bono: Good for what?

Pro bono: Good for what?Next Monday (10 November) marks the start of National Pro Bono week. Five whole days when law firms and students can celebrate the ever-growing scale and impact of pro bono work across the globe.

The event, now in its seventh year, will highlight the pro bono contributions, which support the crucial work of agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres.

The week will give firms the chance to concentrate on something other than the major economic crisis were facing. And thankfully firms havent succumbed to the Scrooge-like tactics many organisations are imposing on their workforces at the moment when it comes to pro bono.

No, pro bono work looks like its still lodged very much in the hearts of law firms everywhere – albeit a slightly shabby looking pulmonary vein. And last weeks launch of the International Pro Bono Database at The Law Society proves this.

The idea for a database of pro bono projects and contacts worldwide stems from the International Pro Bono Committee which The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC chairs.

The database currently includes details of over 190 projects in around 75 countries and will be a useful tool for potential funders, to help co-ordinate pro-bono work around the globe.

Baroness Scotland summed up the event by saying that she, and many others like her, chose a career in law because she wanted to right wrongs, preserve values and make the world a safer place.

She then asked why pro bono was so important to the legal profession – to which she answered: Because every good lawyer has pro bono as part of their DNA.

This is being increasingly proven by students showcasing a desire to do good and taking a keen interest in pro bono activities at their universities up and down the country. recently published a feature highlighting the increasing popularity of pro bono work at law schools (Pro bono: Good practice).

The feature shows how students are using their legal knowledge to help people, who would not qualify for legal aid to get access to justice. It also demonstrates that students arent just setting up law advice centres and building schools in Tanzania simply to pad out their CVs. Theyre doing it because they have the same core values as Baroness Scotland and many other lawyers have, and will continue to have worldwide.