Online pro bono scheme wins Big Society Award

Online pro bono network iProbono has won a Big Society Award, after matching nearly 500 pro bono projects with lawyers.

The initiative, founded by Field Fisher Waterhouse associate Shireen Irani, has been recognised by prime minister David Cameron for its success in matching lawyers with suitable pro bono initiatives.

The free service has enabled sole practitioners, students, retired lawyers and smaller firms to become involved with pro bono work. Since 2009, £6.6m worth of pro bono work has been undertaken by the organisation and it currently has over 40,000 volunteers on its books.

It works by matching lawyer members, who indicate their legal experience and preferences, with charities and organisations which post projects.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s fantastic to see so many legal professionals lending their time and expertise to help charities and social businesses flourish. This Big Society Award recognises the passion and dedication of iProbono founder Shireen Irani, as well as the support Field Fisher Waterhouse continues to give the initiative to succeed and grow.”

Founder Shireen Irani said: “iProbono’s impact is only made possible by the members of our network. We believe public service is an integral part of being a professional – beyond duty, people want to engage in their communities, they want to have a positive impact in the world. 

“Harnessing the internet enables iProbono to find these people and free them up to connect with the causes they care about. This Award recognises the individual efforts of those people and also the civil society organisations on our network.

“They are some of the best in the sector – from small social enterprises, to international development organisations, we witness great stories of change and we are privileged to be able to support them.”

Meanwhile, the annual Bar Pro Bono Award has been won by Matrix Chambers barrister Sarah Hannett. The founder of the City University Matrix School Exclusion Project, which provides pro bono representation to parents of children who have been permanently excluded from school, Hannett has helped 47 parents whose children face exclusion since 2011.