What we do

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 organising placements for them to work as volunteers at advice agencies.

Why are we needed?

Britain was already experiencing a legal advice deficit before the pandemic and cost-of-living crises struck, placing even greater pressure on the advice sector. Those 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.

What do we do?

Since it was set up in 2014, PBC has run over 100 training programmes involving more than 2,000 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, Oxford University, University of Law, SOAS, King’s College London, University College London, Manchester Metropolitan University, Oxford Brookes, University of West England, University of Hertfordshire, Greenwich University, BPP, Royal Holloway University, University of Westminster and London South Bank University.

By working closely with universities and law firms 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.

How do the programmes work?

PBC trains students and lawyers in legal advice skills and one or more areas of social welfare law including welfare benefits, housing, employment, debt and consumer law. PBC is able to tailor its training to individual clients’ needs with flexibility around venue, format, schedule, duration and content.

PBC then organises placements for the participants to work as volunteers at advice agencies across the country. The work these volunteers do will depend upon the needs of the agencies at which they are placed but includes tasks such as fielding and triaging new clients, signposting or referring clients, providing information and advice on next steps, reception duties such as welcoming clients, arranging appointments and answering calls and interviewing clients. Most advice agencies expect volunteers to commit to placements lasting a minimum of six months although many will go on to extend their placements for much longer periods.

Who benefits from PBC’s activities?

Tens of thousands of people have benefited from the support provided by PBC’s volunteers who have enabled advice agencies to increase their capacity at a time when resources are under constant pressure. We estimate that PBC-trained volunteers have provided free legal support and assistance to well over 50,000 people since the charity was established. 

Furthermore, universities and law firms have benefited from high-quality training and enriching placements that their students and employees find interesting, challenging and rewarding.

What people say about our work

“Pro Bono Community were happy to work with us to design a bespoke training programme which sets them apart from other legal training organisations. They provided an excellent service and worked very hard to help us achieve our goals. We received positive feedback from our volunteer lawyers and the training has given them the confidence to advise individuals face to face on their housing law queries.”
Lara Adamson, Global Pro Bono Advisor, Linklaters