Pro bono scheme launched for legal profession’s ‘non-lawyers’

updated on 17 June 2022

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Fifth Day, a pro bono scheme for non-lawyers in the legal sector, was launched earlier this week – it aims to encourage law firms to offer volunteering opportunities to non-fee earning staff.

There are currently 30,000 professionals working in areas including IT, finance and HR in the top 100 UK law firms, according to Fifth Day. Alongside Reach Volunteering, a skills-based volunteering charity, Fifth Day wants to connect business professionals with projects and trustee roles.

Former head of communications at Pinsent Masons Fred Banning founded the non-profit organisation that launched earlier this week, following a “terminal cancer diagnosis” which forced him to finish work in 2020.

Banning said: “One of my great regrets was that, while I derived a huge amount of satisfaction from my career, I wished I had done more to use my skills and experience to benefit others. In speaking to friends and colleagues from several professional services firms, it seems clear to me that I’m not alone in this.

“The legal profession has a proud tradition of pro bono among fee-earning communities There is a recognition that pro bono enriches the lives of lawyers and the culture of many law firms. I’d love to see that same ethos permeate business operations teams.”

Banning wants to see law firms sign up to Fifth Day’s corporate membership programme and “make a commitment to promote and give equivalence to pro bono opportunities among their non-fee earning communicates”. The scheme has no fees involved.

An advisory board made up of Jeremy Ford (senior business development and marketing leader at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP), David Halliwell (partner at Pinsent Masons), Nicola Sawford (portfolio non-executive director and former chief executive of Serle Court) and Moira Slape (chief people officer at Travers Smith LLP) are assisting Banning through the process.