Pro Bono Week: Retired lawyers encouraged to offer free legal support

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By Rhys Duncan on


Evokes spirit of NHS during the pandemic

The National Pro Bono Centre (NPBC) has announced a new scheme to encourage retired lawyers to undertake pro bono work.

The project, championed by representatives from Advocate and LawWorks, aims to draw on the experience of the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw retired medics step back up to the plate to provide essential support.

Assisting energised retirees in finding the right post is a “one-stop-shop for information, guidance and opportunities”, which will allow lawyers to find positions best suited to their interests, skills and schedules.

Successful pro bono work conducted by former lawyers include a barrister securing compensation and 12 weeks paid holiday for a client whose employer had denied him the right to paid annual leave, and a solicitor advising a same-sex couple in their successful claim against their employer and landlord after they were evicted for rejecting his sexual advances.

Robert Bourns, NPBC trustee and board chair of the Law Society of England and Wales, said:

“I welcome the launch of this fantastic new initiative amid an increasing need for pro bono legal support to ensure the most vulnerable in our society have access to justice when they need it. I urge colleagues across the legal profession to explore the option to continue to offer pro bono legal help in their retirement.”

In a callback to the 60s and 70s, Mary Dobson Smith, executive Lead at the National Pro Bono Centre, further roused the pro bono troops by “[calling] on the Captain Mainwarings of today to come forward as part of a new ‘Home Guard’ for pro bono”.

The announcement comes of Pro Bono Week, a special seven-day event that recognises and promotes the voluntary work of lawyers.

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After a lifetime of never ending unpaid overtime, client expectation you answer their calls and emails within minutes 24/7, stress, anxiety and burnout, unrealistic expectations and everything else, I doubt retired solicitors and counsel will queue to continue their work for free when it still carries all the professional risks for them.
Pro Bono work is required and it is essential but there are better ways to promote it.


Absolutely right SourLemon . With a lifetime practise of 95 % publicly funded work , that is charitable work in itself with all the negative points you highlight . Add to that the abuse you get from those you have worked hardest for and the loss of many professional friends who expired long before state retirement age and I have no regrets of giving it all up to work with horses pro bono . I may be financially much poorer but when you get kicked / thrown or sxxt on it’s much easier to deal with as it’s invariably your own fault ! I take my hat off to those selfless folk who feel able to carry out this valuable work. I am only sorry that after 35 years I am a spent force in relation to providing legal advice and advocacy.

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