Ex-City comms chief launches pro bono project for non-lawyers

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By Rona Ankrah on


Non-profit Fifth Day is encouraging business professionals from across the legal sector to donate their time and skills

Former Pinsent Masons head of corporate communications Fred Banning has launched an initiative seeking to promote pro bono opportunities for business operations professionals in the legal sector.

Pro bono work is typically undertaken by lawyers with firms running various projects within their local and wider communities, but Banning is trying to shake things up with Fifth Day, a non-profit organisation.

There are currently some 30,000 professionals believed to be working in business services such as IT, business development, marketing, finance, HR, facilities and secretarial services in the top 100 UK law firms.

Fifth Day aims to encourage these individuals to undertake pro bono assignments from other organisations in much the same way as lawyers across the profession traditionally have.

Launched by Banning, Fifth Day’s advisory board includes Jeremy Ford, Skadden’s senior business development and marketing leader, David Halliwell, partner at Pinsent Masons, Nicola Sawford, portfolio non-executive director and former chief executive of Serle Court; and Moira Sharpe, chief people officer at Travers Smith.

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Commenting on the launch, Banning said: “I was effectively forced by circumstances to finish work in 2020 after a terminal cancer diagnosis. One of my great regrets was that, while I derived a huge amount of satisfaction from my career, I wished I had done more to use my skills and experience to benefit others. In speaking to friends and colleagues from several professional services firms, it seems clear to me that I’m not alone in this.”

He added:

“The legal profession has a proud tradition of pro bono among the fee-earning communities. There is a recognition that pro bono enriches the lives of lawyers and the culture of many law firms; I’d love to see that same ethos permeate business operations teams.”

Fifth Day also connects talent with projects and Trustee roles through its website, and has established a voluntary ‘Corporate Membership’ programme that law firms can commit to promoting pro bono opportunities among their business operations teams.

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