How do you encourage your barristers to take pro bono?

I try to encourage barristers to sign up to Advocate as soon as they complete pupillage and become full time tenants as the aim is to make pro bono work a part of their practice from the off. Also, the easy sell is the nature of the work offered which can be very interesting given the mix of commercial, public law and human rights issues sometimes involved.   

How do you think it benefits them?

By accepting cases through Advocate, many doors are opened. Not only do the barristers play their part in offering access to justice, there are great opportunities for a junior barrister to develop their own skillset and gain experience with running cases in their own right. There have also been occasions when barristers have brought in solicitors to assist with matters through Pro Bono Connect and so there are opportunities to develop relationships with like-minded solicitors.

What benefit do you get from encouraging pro bono?

When you read through the weekly case list published by Advocate, it’s evident that the need for access to justice is increasing, especially in the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the cases that we undertake are quite touching and so I take pride in knowing that the barristers at Brick Court Chambers, and also the wider bar, are all playing their part in supporting Advocate, and those individuals unable to afford access to the legal profession.

Do you have a special system in place for allocating work?

We have an established network in Chambers, spanning all levels of seniority, of those barristers keen to undertake Pro Bono work as part of their practice. Each week, I look through the list of cases that Advocate are trying to place to identify matters that may be suited to particular barristers. I will then send an internal email to seek assistance of those with the right expertise required, and with adequate time to provide a high quality service to the client.

While it’s an honour to be nominated for a Bar Pro Bono Award, it is shared with my colleagues at Brick Court Chambers who deserve recognition as they also play a pivotal role in the Pro Bono work undertaken by Chambers.

What advice would you give to other clerks or practice managers who are sceptical about pro bono?

Don’t be sceptical!

As a client, if you have no prior experience of the justice system, it can be very daunting and so many individuals just need some assistance and reassurance about their case. Undertaking Pro Bono work is very rewarding to a barrister, especially if they win!