The phrase pro bono comes from the Latin term pro bono publico, which means 'for the public good'. Today, pro bono refers to a very broad range of legal work that is performed voluntarily and free of charge for the benefit of society.
Pro bono work is not a replacement for a properly funded legal aid system, but is a complementary service for those who may fall outside the legal aid system without funds to pay for legal help.
By doing pro bono work, lawyers and students alike not only give something back to the community, but develop their legal skills and knowledge about various areas of the law. Pro bono work provided can range from drafting letters to representation at court.
As students, it is crucial for us to recognize this gap in the legal system and take steps to contribute to pro bono activities, for example by aiding lawyers and organizations engaged in pro bono work. Our small steps, together, may make a world of a difference for many in society.
The purpose of this page is to provide information for LSE students interested in taking part in pro bono activities during their studies. It explains who to contact if you are an LSE student and would like to find out more information about pro bono. It also outlines some of the pro bono activities that LSE students have been involved in and have set up themselves in previous years.
There are a number of ongoing pro bono projects which LSE Law students are, or have been, involved in. These include the following:
The Bethnal Green Legal Advice Centre was founded in 1941, and provides legal services to those who live or work in Tower Hamlets and South Hackney. The typical areas of law addressed by the centre relate to housing, consumer protection, debt relief and employment. Clifford Chance is one of the firms which assist the centre to do its work, and it is through Clifford Chance that LSE students are given the opportunity to get involved. After attending volunteer training sessions at Clifford Chance’s offices, students assist the pro bono casework of their solicitors by taking minutes during client meetings, discussing with solicitors how to best advise the client, engaging in follow-up research, and drafting documents.
For further information contact Irene Claeys (I.Claeys@lse.ac.uk) and Fatima Ahdash (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The City of London Appeals Clinic is a pro bono project looking at apparent cases of miscarriage of justice. The clinic combines the skills and experience of practicing criminal lawyers with students and volunteers to investigate cases of alleged wrongful conviction and to provide pro bono advice on having the conviction overturned. The clinic holds education sessions at LSE to provide students with practical and theoretical knowledge of post-conviction criminal litigation. Students are introduced through lectures to the work of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and the Criminal Cases Review Commission, whilst learning what to look for when seeking to overturn a conviction, and what evidence may be useful in doing so. Students get the opportunity to engage with real casework in order to develop practical experience in case analysis and to practise drafting grounds of appeal for review by professional lawyers, with the aim of creating a student led network of criminal appeal clinics in London.
For further information contact Fatima Ahdash (email@example.com)
Pro Bono Community aims to increase the amount and quality of advice from well-trained and highly-motivated volunteers as one of the few practical ways to address the legal advice deficit created by the removal of government funding. Pro Bono Community provides specialist training aimed at equipping law students, trainees and junior lawyers with the skills and expertise to work as volunteers in law centres and advice agencies. To this end, it has been awarded a grant by City Bridge Trust to train cohorts of law students and place them as volunteers in advice centres across London. The training scheme introduces students to the sector, client care, and recent welfare reforms, before they undertake volunteering placements of providing client-facing casework assistance. The scheme provides law students with in-depth instruction in welfare benefits law and a rare opportunity to gain exposure to law in practice.
For further information contact Fletch Williams (F.M.Fletcher-Williams@lse.ac.uk)
The following contacts and information may also be useful:
LSE Pro Bono Matters is a postgraduate student-led organisation in the LSE Law Department. We work on legal projects with a range of organisations and practitioners, with the aim of improving access to justice, protecting human rights and furthering other public interest causes.
As of 2016 -17, Pro Bono Matters comprises 30 postgraduate student members, many of whom have experience in legal practice in a range of jurisdictions. Overseen by the Law Department's Pro Bono Coordinator, members work on cases with a clear human rights dimension; international strategic litigation; produce legal submissions, reports, and other briefings for non-profit organizations; and conduct research in the public interest.
Pro Bono Matters’ recent work has included large-scale research projects in partnership with the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, resulting in submissions to the UK Law Commission and the UN Panel on Women, Peace and Security.
If you would like to see whether LSE Pro Bono Matters can support your public interest project, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To keep up with LSE Pro Bono Matters please follow us on Facebook and the Pro Bono Matters webpage.