FLBA invitation PBW 1Advocate and the FLBA co-hosted an event on Monday 4th November to kick off Pro Bono Week with Cyrus Larizadeh QC (4 Paper Buildings, Chair of the FLBA), Zimran Samuel (Doughty Street) and Shyam Popat (COO of Advocate) chairing. It was a lively and interactive session with lots of questions and debate. Here are some of highlights:

  • Cyrus began by telling the story of how his very first pro bono case ended up in the Supreme Court. He achieved a wonderful rapport with his client, who had represented himself under very difficult circumstances, which set up Cyrus’ desire to continue to take on pro bono. He remarked how important it is to treat pro bono work the same as paid work and give it no less than 100%.
  • We then heard from ‘Kenneth’, the client Cyrus helped who described his struggles to understand the law, the procedure and the effort to represent himself against a large number of lawyers on the other side who were very unsympathetic. He spoke movingly about how he would never have won without legal help because he simply didn’t understand the technicalities involved.
  • Zimran then spoke about how he provided help to victims of domestic abuse during the first lockdown. He described taking calls from perpetrators as well as victims and how surprised he was that ‘honour violence’ still continued underground, both in the UK and abroad. He described using Twitter to help publicise his work, which encouraged people to get in touch and offer their assistance, so that he ended with a solid group of people to help him. Zimran described his work at this time as “one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done” and encouraged young barristers to take on pro bono because “there’s a person at the end of the papers”.
  • Simon Bruce, from Farrer & Co, was invited to share his experience of providing a pro bono legal service in the last few months with the help of a couple of law students who have been invaluable and have gained great experience from it. He dispelled the myth that pro bono clients are not grateful for their help by saying that 90% of their clients had been “overwhelmed with gratitude” at the service they’d received and that he envisaged providing pro bono on an ongoing basis.
  • Shyam Popat spoke briefly about a new family law scheme that Advocate is launching this week. Advocate is overwhelmed with family law cases and simply cannot place them all. A scheme is being launched aiming to ensure that people will not be left without any advice by connecting them with a rota of lawyers willing to provide telephone or short written advice before they go to court. It’s easy to join Advocate and barristers can take on work from their second six onwards.
  • The best quote of the night came from Kenneth, who encouraged people to take pro bono cases whenever they could because “one good turn can last a lifetime.”