Newsletter – November 2021
From the CEO
This week, we celebrate the 20th annual Pro Bono Week in the UK. We are encouraging all Costs Lawyers to celebrate pro bono successes and join in with events, as well as considering what more you can do to share your unique knowledge and skills with the pro bono community.
The National Pro Bono Centre’s Guide to Pro Bono reminds us that the Latin term “pro bono”, when used in the legal context, usually refers to the provision of legal services on a free basis to those who can’t afford to pay and where public means of funding are not available.
Access to legal advice and representation is central to upholding the rule of law in our society, and lawyers are in the privileged position of being able to serve the public by facilitating that access. A commitment to justice is an important part of what it means to be a trusted, authorised legal professional.
We know that many of the charities and community groups that provide free legal advice to citizens are under-resourced generally, let alone in the specialist area of legal costs. Anecdotally, we also know that people can find themselves facing large adverse costs awards, often where they have represented themselves in substantive proceedings, and not knowing where to turn. In some cases, the fear of legal costs causes individuals not to engage with the legal system at all. Costs Lawyers are uniquely positioned to share their costs expertise with these members of society and help people make informed choices.
Pro Bono Week is run by LawWorks, a charity working across England and Wales to enable access to justice through pro bono legal advice. LawWorks promotes and supports pro bono, helps connect people needing legal advice with pro bono volunteers, and advocates for policy change.
LawWorks also operates the Pro Bono Portal UK, which aims to create a national “one stop shop” for remote and online pro bono volunteering. This is open to all lawyers, including Costs Lawyers, regardless of whether you are a LawWorks member.
This newsletter contains more information and resources to help you think about how to begin or further your pro bono journey. If you have any ideas or case studies to share with the profession, please get in touch.