The term “pro bono” derives from the Latin phrase “pro bono publico”, meaning “for the public good”. Pro bono work serves those that may not be entitled to legal aid and are unable to otherwise afford legal assistance. Essentially, it covers a wide range of voluntary work conducted by lawyers and students, for the welfare of society. It is a means by which lawyers can give back to society whilst enhancing their legal skills and experience in various aspects of law.
The legal process is a system that no one should be deprived of, especially not on the grounds of finances. With the recent cuts in legal aid, access to justice is becoming harder to achieve. This is where legal pro bono comes to the rescue, ensuring that individuals are not denied legal assistance or representation because they cannot afford it. There are countless pros of pro bono work, which can be contrasted by examining the benefits to oneself, to one’s law firm, to law students, and finally, benefits to others.
Benefits to Self
Being involved with pro bono work can assist individuals in learning about themselves, enhancing their legal skills, getting involved with their communities, and gaining the chance to explore a new field of work. In terms of developing oneself and enhancing skills, individuals gain more experience in identifying legal issues, distinguishing between legitimate and non-legitimate legal claims, interacting with clients, and advising them through the legal process.
Benefits to Law Firms
Legal pro bono work often assists in strengthening a law firm’s corporate social responsibility and helps in building the esteem of a firm, making it more reputable and known. Pro bono is also a cost-effective way of developing new barristers and solicitors. In dealing with various new situations and encountering several types of clients, young associates gain the chance to brush up on their skills and potentially learn new ones. Pro bono work pushes new associates to become more confident by frequently appearing in court, and directing interviews with clients, all of which provides them with hands-on experience that may be valuable for future cases.
Benefits to Law Students
Taking part in pro bono works gives students the chance to engage in practical experiences, whilst being exposed to what their future occupation may bring. This experience helps students adapt to the climate of pro bono work, something that would be of value when pursuing a career as a barrister or solicitor.
Benefits to Others
Assisting someone through what may be a complex legal system in his or her view may be the most gratifying and valuable experience. Had pro bono services not been available, the community may not have any other legal support to rely on, which would make the system harsh and unjust.
Overall, access to justice is a basic right that everyone deserves to have regardless of financial status, and pro bono service helps to bridge this gap between the less privileged and more privileged in society. Alongside the advantages of having a more equitable and just society, solicitors and barristers who conduct pro bono work earn the contentment of making a difference in their society.
Saba Khan, aspiring solicitors at Exeter University