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.
For further information contact Fatima Ahdash (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
A small but growing charity that provides free legal advice to disabled people and their carers. Established in 1975, Disability Law Service provides advice covering employment, discrimination, welfare benefits, community care, housing and debt. In addition, DLS advocates for changes in laws and policies, whether at their own initiative or in support of other disability charities. Volunteering opportunities arise from time to time in all of the areas of law that are covered by the Disability Law service. Volunteers will be trained in the relevant area and on the case management system, before going on to take calls with clients, provide initial advice, draft letters and conduct legal research. All work is carefully supervised by the professional team. Volunteers either work in DSL’s office or remotely. A commitment of at least one day per week (or equivalent if working remotely) for a six month period is needed – although time off for study and exams is of course fine.
Please note, however, that when Disability Law Service has volunteering opportunities they advertise these through the LSE. If there is no such specific advertisement then it is unlikely that they have a vacancy.
If you would like further information about the charity please contact David Laurence, Deputy Chief Executive – email@example.com.
The following contacts and information may also be useful:
LSE Pro Bono Matters is a postgraduate student-led organisation at LSE Law School. 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. For more information see the Pro Bono Matters webpage.