Pro Bono Community (PBC) is a registered charity and social enterprise which seeks to improve access to justice by providing specialist training in legal advice and social welfare law to lawyers, trainees and students and then placing them as volunteers at Law Centres and advice agencies.
Following cuts in legal aid and government funding, Britain is experiencing a legal advice deficit in which hundreds of thousands fewer people are receiving free legal advice and assistance. Those Law Centres and advice agencies that have remained open are overstretched and under-resourced. Pro Bono Community is committed to providing these organisations with well-trained volunteers who can help them to overcome the challenges they face and improve access to justice for people in need.
By working closely with law firms and universities we hope that our training and volunteer placement schemes will serve to embed pro bono culture in the hearts and minds of young lawyers and that many of them will go on to become evangelists for volunteering and pro bono work in their future careers.
PBC was set up with support from The Legal Education Foundation and went live in 2014-15. Since then the charity has run over 40 training programmes involving more than 900 attendees from law firms, universities and other organisations including Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Simmons & Simmons, Shearman & Sterling, Olswang, Ashurst, Morgan Lewis, Farrer, Hogan Lovells, CMS, City Law School, LSE, King’s College London, University College London, Manchester Metropolitan University, Greenwich University, BPP, University of Law, Royal Holloway University and London South Bank University.
Volunteers trained by PBC have gone on to work at Law Centres and advice agencies across London. PBC expects volunteers to commit to a minimum of 13 days volunteering following their training although many will go on to extend their placements for much longer periods. Law Centres and advice agencies estimate that each volunteer assists an average of at least two people per session which means that PBC-trained volunteers have provided free legal support and assistance to an estimated 23,000 people since the charity was established.