Four out of 10 law firms did not do any pro bono work in the last 12 months, according to Law Society figures. Next week the 14th annual National Pro Bono Week kicks off– backed by the Law Society, Bar Council and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – to ‘celebrate the breadth and impact of pro bono work undertaken by the legal profession across the year’.
A survey of a 1,000 randomly selected firms at the beginning of the year revealed that only 59% of firms had conducted pro bono work in the preceding 12 months. A small minority (6%) did not allow fee-earners to undertake pro bono during office hours. Less than a quarter of firms (23%) allowed pro bono hours to count towards solicitors’ chargeable hours targets.
Unsurprisingly, profession’s engagement with pro bono was much stronger in commercial City firms. More than nine out of 10 firms with 26 and more partners (91%) undertook pro bono work – compared to less than two thirds (63%) of medium-sized firms (5-25 partners) and 58% of small firms (1-4 partners).
According to a 2014 Law Society survey of 1,517 solicitors, almost two thirds of solicitors in sole practices had undertaken pro bono work (63%). Of those not providing pro bono services in the preceding 12 months, four out of 10 reported that there were not adequate opportunities to do so. The average number of pro bono hours worked by all solicitors over the past year was 22.
You can find out what’s going on for this year’s National Pro Bono Week here
You can read Freshfields’ Paul Yates on pro bono and exceptional case funding
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