FFW lawyer designs innovative pro bono website

A Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) solicitor has invented a ground breaking website aimed to connect the pro bono community.

Shireen Irani devised the online network ‘i-ProBono’ to allow civil society organisations in need of legal assistance to connect with students and lawyers who want to use their legal skills for the public good.

Irani said: “This is an age of the internet when we use it for everything, from buying things on eBay to searching for property or even finding a life partner; how could there not be anything in the voluntary sector?”

“This is the first website of its kind and is a step change in the delivery of pro bono help,” she added.

FFW had seconded Irani to work on i-ProBono full-time over the past year, as well as providing business services, office space and legal expertise for the project. It is also supported by Allen & Overy.

The network has global reach, enabling organisations to sign up to seek legal advice, researchers or interns, translators or transcribers (for remote projects) or even to have petitions signed.

Irani said they want to expand to allow organisations to align people with their cause and spread the word about issues such as a petition to get someone off death row or an event to campaign for fairtrade products.

“It is incredibly attractive to students as a lot often have high aspirations when going into law, wanting to change the world. ‘i-ProBono’ is great for CVs and to put academics into practice,” she added.

“Not everyone is going to find a project, but what you are doing by signing up is raising your hand to be part of this community.”

The website, which was created by software developers, Incognito E-Services, allows people to have complete anonymity until they choose to connect with an organisation. It currently has about 87 organisations signed up and over 450 students.

Hauwa Shehu, former President of the Student Law Society at UCL said: “Through i-ProBono I have been effortlessly matched with internships, projects and placements all suited to me personally, something which I have previously struggled to do, despite my desire and competence.”