How do you encourage your barristers to take pro bono?

I encourage barristers during their second six pupillage to sign up to Advocate, as well as tenants who have unique experience and expertise who would make a significant difference.

I regularly check and review current Advocate cases and identify matters which would be suitable for counsel within Chambers. 

How do you think it benefits them?

For junior barristers, it provides an excellent opportunity to gain experience and enhance their skillset and to develop their practice into further areas of law. 

Cases through Advocate can be incredibly interesting and will often evolve and become more complicated than originally anticipated. For example, within the last year, we were instructed in a private law children case where issues of FGM and forced marriage arose.  

Members of Chambers are often instructed on pro bono cases on behalf of solicitors, which provides an excellent opportunity to foster strong relationships with solicitors that are committed to this type of work.

What benefit do you get from encouraging pro bono?

A huge sense of pride, not only seeing the wonderful Liz Andrews and Louise Verroken-Jones be nominated for Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year. I have also seen family and friends go through legal struggles with family proceedings and given I am aware that the process is incredibly daunting as well as being emotionally and financially draining. Knowing we can help members of the public who would otherwise struggle to have access to justice provides me with a real sense of gratification.

Do your Chambers support barristers who want to do pro bono work?

Absolutely, as a Chambers we are aware of the importance of pro bono work and engage barristers at an early stage of their career to take on the work. We also receive incredible support from the Heads of Chambers, members of Chambers and our Senior Clerk, Paul Harris.

Our clerking team will manage Counsel’s diary and liaise with Advocate when new elements arise in a case, for review, authorisation and insurance purposes, to ensure continuity of Counsel on each case.

We also provide support to the barristers throughout; managing correspondence, confirmation of listings and remote details, arranging any necessary calls and conferences, lodging documents at court and direct contact with the client prior to meetings or hearings.

Along with the cases we are instructed as Counsel, members of Chambers regularly review case files on behalf of Advocate.

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

I regularly check current Advocate cases and identify matters which would be suitable for our barristers. 

To ensure fair allocation of work I will assess all suitable Counsel, their diary capacity and expertise before liaising with Counsel regarding taking the case on. 

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

Never be sceptical. Pro bono work makes a significant difference, not only in the eyes of the public but also in a member's practice.