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 School 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. For this placement, LSE partners with a City law firm, through which students are given the opportunity to get involved in the centre’s work. After attending volunteer training sessions, students assist the pro bono casework of solicitors by taking minutes during client meetings, discussing with solicitors how to best advise the client, engaging in follow-up research, and drafting documents.
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. 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.
The University of London’s Refugee Law Clinic is an innovative project providing pro bono legal advice for refugee clients. Our work provides some of the most disadvantaged communities with access to fair and equal legal representation, a basic human right which many asylum seekers in the UK struggle to find. The clinic's main legal focus is on advising and preparing ‘fresh claims for asylum,’ an area identified as underserviced in the current legal landscape. Student volunteers are trained in the relevant law and policy, as well as a range of other areas such as practical skills, ethics and professional responsibilities. They then work on cases alongside volunteer lawyers from commercial law firms, and under the direct supervision of the supervising lawyer. Students will be involved in the various aspects of preparing a fresh claim submission for appeal rights exhausted asylum seekers. The work might include research, gathering evidence and drafting submissions, as well as interviewing and taking witness statements and reviewing past decision making. Students will also be involved in managing the administration of the clinic.
The following contacts and information may also be useful:
Academics responsible for Pro Bono activities at LSE Law School are:
For enquiries about specific LSE Law pro bono schemes, contact:
Bethnal Green Legal Advice Centre – Fatima Ahdash (email@example.com)