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How can I find pro bono and volunteering opportunities?

updated on 08 November 2022

Dear Oracle

I'm keen to get involved in pro bono activities, but I don't know where to start. Can you point me in the right direction?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: two minutes

Careers service

A good place to start is the careers service at your university or law school. Your institution might run its own pro bono activities, such as a law centre, which you could get involved in – and if not, it should be able to help you arrange an outside placement or, at the very least, put you in touch with organisations in your area. Even if you’re a non-law student, most university law societies will let you sign up to be involved in a number of the pro bono activities and events they run.

LawWorks and Student Pro Bono

LawWorks and Student Pro Bono are two organisations that could help. 

LawWorks' website has a section devoted to helping volunteers find pro bono and volunteering opportunities. Meanwhile, Student Pro Bono's website also contains plenty of useful information to assist those keen to get involved – you can also find the group on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Citizens Advice

Volunteering with the Citizens Advice is also a great way to experience working with a variety of clients in different areas of law. It’s a national network that offers free, confidential and independent advice to help people overcome issues they may be facing. More specifically, it runs a Witness Service volunteer programme. As a volunteer on this programme, you’d be supporting witnesses in court by explaining court procedures and practices, as well as giving support before the trial and on the day.

Advocate and Free Representation Unit

If you’re planning to train as a barrister, you could find Advocate and the Free Representation Unit more useful, as they specifically target this branch of the profession. They’re also one of only a few organisations that allow you to display oral advocacy in front of a genuine tribunal hearing. So, there’s no harm in reaching out to see whether they have any volunteering opportunities available.

If you’re interested in pro bono schemes, check out this LCN Says on ‘Pro bono: how to find the right scheme for you’.

Your university

Universities have a range of projects on the go, including local legal advice and Streetlaw clinics, The Innocence Project (US-based) and Pathways to Law. You can also get involved in outreach projects that aim to promote access to the profession and higher education. These opportunities will help you develop several key legal skills such as interviewing, negotiating and drafting letters of advice, as well as important transferable skills.

Finally, take a look at LCN’s dedicated section on available pro bono initiatives and this Feature on the benefits of getting involved in pro bono work: Pro bono: a law student’s guide.