For the first time in 2020, the Guidance for Applicants for the QC appointment process was updated to include the option of using pro bono case examples in the list of competencies. Pro bono cases can offer useful exposure to higher courts and complex matters, with many of our panel members taking cases all to the way to the Court of Appeal and beyond.

For example, long-time Advocate supporter and Chair of the FLBA, Cyrus Larizadeh QC, speaking at a joint event in pro bono week told 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 and build it into his everyday practice.

Another vocal supporter is Andrew de Mestre QC, Chair of the Chancery Bar Pro Bono Sub-committee, who says:

[Pro bono] is immensely rewarding and provides a real sense of job satisfaction. As an additional benefit, a Judge that I appeared before on behalf of CLIPS suggested that I apply for Silk and use her as a referee, so I was fortunate enough to be able to rely on two of my pro bono cases on my QC application form.”

This encouragement for senior barristers to appear in pro bono cases is echoed by the judiciary. Court of Appeal judge, Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing says:

Helping the court not only serves the interests of justice, but, if the pro bono advocate does the case well, may make a favourable impression on the judge, and may help that advocate to build a reputation with that judge, and with other judges to whom that judge may speak, if asked for a view.”

HHJ Alan Johns agrees, saying:

You will never get a warmer reception in court than when you appear pro bono. Being able to refer to that work helped my applications for both silk and judicial appointment.

We appreciate that some senior barristers may feel too pressed for time to dedicate themselves to an Advocate case and in this situation, it is possible to team up with a more junior member of the Bar looking for some exposure to a matter that is perhaps more complex than they have experienced. These partnerships are hugely beneficial to both parties – providing invaluable experience for the junior and much-needed practical support for the senior. To make this process easier, Advocate has launched a mentoring scheme, which you can read more about and join here.

If you would like to consider joining the Advocate panel, please sign up. We look forward to working with you!