Volunteering: how to get into pro bono
Want to read this article later?
Just tap MyLCN+ to save it to your account
I'm really keen to get involved in pro bono activities, but I don't know how to get started. Can you point me in the right direction?
The Oracle replies
A good place to start would be 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. At the very least, it should be able to put you in touch with organisations in your area. Even if you are 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.
Two organisations that will also be helpful are LawWorks and Student Pro Bono. LawWorks' website has a section devoted to helping volunteers find pro bono and volunteering opportunities. 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 by searching for "student pro bono" in the site's search function. Volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau is also a great way to experience working with a variety of clients in different areas of law.
If you are planning to train as a barrister, you could find the Bar Pro Bono Unit and the Free Representation Unit more useful, as they specifically target this branch of the profession. Why not try contacting them to see if they have any volunteering opportunities available?
Universities will have a range of projects available, with examples including local legal advice and StreetLaw clinics, The Innocence Project (US-based) and Pathways to Law. You could also get involved in outreach projects which look at promoting access to the professions and higher education. Such opportunities can help to develop a number of 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 and law students: what's in it for me?.