How do you encourage your barristers to take pro bono?

Our barrister Advocate pro bono champion, Alex Campbell and I both encourage our members to take on pro bono cases. This joint approach seems to works well.

We point out the many benefits of taking on pro bono cases. For our more junior barristers, we remind them that it’s often an opportunity to get into the higher courts. For our more senior barristers contemplating silk applications, we point out judges’ generally high regard for barristers who do pro bono work.

Also, we’re signed up to Pro Bono Connect which enables some of our other members, like our chancery and commercial barristers, to get involved in pro bono cases too.

How do you think it benefits them?

At the very least it can bring them to the attention of a wider group of people. And sometimes it can be truly career-enhancing. Last year two of our barristers were nominated for awards at the Advocate Bar Pro Bono Awards for their pro bono work in the Court of Appeal case of Jarvis v Evans (Shelter Cymru was an intervenor) which dealt with landlord licensing in Wales.

As a result of their success on behalf of the tenant, the landlord’s possession claim was dismissed. And private rented sector tenants in Wales are now better protected against eviction.

What benefit do you get from encouraging pro bono?

I find it satisfying. It’s nice to feel I’ve contributed to helping someone who can’t afford legal advice or representation to get support during a really stressful time in their life.

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

Yes we do, to ensure fair allocation of work. As well as ensuring fairness, we also consider matching the right barrister with the right level of experience to the particular case.

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

Pro bono work can be incredibly rewarding for barristers and clerks. It’s definitely worth playing your part in some way.