Pro Bono Community Volunteer Training Scheme for KCL Students 2021-2022
The Pro Bono Community scheme
Pro Bono Community (PBC) is a registered charity which 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. Hundreds of students from different universities including KCL have participated in this scheme over recent years with more than 90% saying they would recommend the scheme to others. The scheme is funded through a grant from Therium Access.
There are two components to the scheme: an online training programme and a volunteer placement at an advice agency. PBC’s welfare benefits law for volunteers training programme consists of up to 10 sessions which take place over two days and include group work, exercises and case studies. The training includes an introduction to advice work in Law Centres with an emphasis on interpersonal and practical skills as well as recent social welfare reforms, before focussing on a range of welfare benefits law topics serving to contextualise the work that students will undertake as volunteers.
What will students gain from this scheme?
- The structured training will equip students to work as volunteers, provide them with the skills for practice and develop their practical knowledge of legal processes. It provides students with the confidence they need to get the most out of their placement.
- The volunteering placements help to develop interpersonal and client management skills, whilst assisting with casework improves drafting, case management and advocacy abilities. There may also be opportunities for in-person or remote client-facing work and assisting on appeal cases.
- Students who attend the course and complete their volunteering placements will receive the Pro Bono Volunteer Training Certificate which is endorsed by City Law School and certifies that they have successfully completed the course, rendering them more attractive to employers by demonstrating that they are committed, motivated and have the skills necessary for practice.
- The scheme provides students with in-depth instruction in welfare benefits law which is an interesting and very topical area of law. The placement is a rare hands-on opportunity to gain exposure to law in practice.
Volunteering at Law Centres and Advice Agencies
PBC will coordinate volunteering placements for students at Law Centres and other advice agencies across the UK where they will be able to put theory into practice and gain valuable client-facing experience.
Students will be required to commit to undertaking volunteering placements of or equivalent to at least one day per week for 3-6 months (Law Centres and advice agencies have different policies in respect of the level of commitment expected of volunteers). The longer the placement the more you will benefit from the experience.
It is important that students who sign up for the training understand that the volunteering is not optional and only those who complete their volunteering placements satisfactorily will receive the Pro Bono Community Volunteer Training Certificate endorsed by City Law School. When selecting students for the programme, PBC will show preference to applicants who can demonstrate the commitment required and are flexible as to when or where they undertake their placements. We expect to start placing students from November 2021 onwards. At this stage it is not clear whether placements will be remote or in person, most likely they will be a mixture of both. If you have a strong preference for a remote or in person placement you should note this on the application form but preference will be shown to students who can be flexible.
Making Applications and Arrangements for the Volunteer Training Programme
The training will be held on Zoom over two days on Saturday, November 6th and Saturday, November 13th from 0930 to 1700. Attendance on both days is compulsory.
PBC will coordinate the placements in conjunction with the agencies and will provide students with relevant contacts and information. Volunteers will be required to maintain records of the work they undertake during their placements and make these records available through PBC’s online volunteering portal.
The Pro Bono Community volunteer training scheme is open to all students. If you would like to apply for the volunteer training scheme please complete the application form here: PBC Volunteer Training Application Form by 0900 on Friday, 22nd October 2021. We are usually over-subscribed and early application will be taken into account during selection. Queries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please find below some feedback about the scheme from some of the students who participated in previous cohorts.
“My first experience interacting with a client at the Job Centre was a particularly interesting case and exposed me to much of the demands of the role and ways in which I could improve. This first client interaction was a significant growing experience for me and it was very enjoyable to witness a case go from the various stages of problem identification to solutions”. Rahul, Advising Communities volunteer
“My volunteer experience has been one of the highlights of my year. It is of course challenging, but I have gained valuable client skills, experienced an area of law I otherwise would never have encountered and have understood first-hand how the law impacts vulnerable people. I have met some incredible people”. Penny, Advising Communities volunteer
“The training and resources provided to me have been of real practical use. Not only have I used knowledge gained about the social security benefits system at Toynbee Hall, but I have also used it to advise clients on benefits issues during my other volunteering commitments at Detention Action. What’s more, I have used the skills to gain another placement as a Volunteer Advocate at Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, where I represent people in appeals against awards of ESA and PIP in social security tribunals. I could not recommend the course more highly. Thank you so much for all your help and support!” Michael, Toynbee Hall volunteer
“A very enjoyable experience. I learned so much that I never would have learned on any university course!” Anusha, Toynbee Hall volunteer
“I helped another client who suffered from fibromyalgia to fill in a new Personal Independent Payment Form due to a change of her circumstances. However, the client did not know how to speak English so her daughter was here to translate my questions to her for me… (This experience) inspires me to volunteer at law centres when I become a lawyer to help those in need.” Ellen, Age UK Lambeth volunteer “I really gained a lot of practical experience and professional knowledge. All the staff at Toynbee Hall are very nice, and they helped me in various ways. I also now understand the importance of pro bono services in our society, and I want to help more people through such services”. Zhe, Toynbee Hall volunteer