25 years ago, led by Lord Goldsmith QC, Advocate was set up by barristers, for barristers, to serve the public.

Advocate is grateful to have been part of pro bono at the Bar for the last 25 years. The expert help, advice and countless hours that have been given by so many individuals have achieved truly life-changing results. 

In light of all the Bar has achieved in those last 25 years, and all we hope the Bar will achieve in the next 25 years, in 2021 we will celebrate the Bar’s outstanding pro bono commitment, as well as taking time to strengthen our casework service and raise funds to sustain this vital work in a very difficult environment. Our goal is to help even more people to navigate a complex and sometimes overwhelming legal system and we hope you will join us in helping to make our 25th year our best year yet and as we look to develop the next 25 years of pro bono at the Bar. We will also be launching new initiatives this year, with both the senior and the junior ends of the profession in mind.

2020 was a record-breaking year for Advocate. Despite the difficult circumstances faced, the pro bono work undertaken far eclipsed that of 2019. We are honoured to have so much magnificent support and know this reflects the Bar’s dedication to providing access to justice for the most vulnerable.

We cannot be a replacement for a properly funded legal aid system and we do not attempt to try, as Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar, recently said:

“The Bar’s record-breaking dedication to providing free legal advice to the most vulnerable is a beacon of light in the most challenging of times. The fact that many providing this support in 2020 were young barristers, who have been particularly hard hit by the effects of the pandemic, is a real testament to the spirit of our profession. While this spirit should not provide an excuse for Government to rely on pro bono work as a replacement for a properly funded justice system, the Bar’s priority is clear: access to justice for the public. I am immensely grateful to all barristers that give their time to pro bono.

There is no doubt your contribution makes a real difference. Here at Advocate, every day we are reminded of the immense legal need for barristers to step forward; but we are privileged to receive the stories of family reunifications, employment appeals won, or spurious costs claims struck out and the impact of livelihoods restored along with mental and physical wellbeing.

Where you have contributed over the last 25 years, we would love to hear from you. There is a huge amount of pro bono work going on, often behind the scenes and in unsung ways. To help us celebrate this year as fully as possible, and for us all to better understand the full extent of the Bar’s commitment to pro bono, please consider submitting a few lines on the work you have done. We would love to hear about the impact that you have seen pro bono have on either the people and communities you have worked with, or on your own career. We have created a short form to make it possible for you to tell us your story.

With best wishes, 

Sir Robin Knowles CBE                              Rebecca Wilkie  

Chairman                                                                  Chief Executive