What is pro bono?
‘Pro bono’, literally translated, means for the public good, and generally refers to work that lawyers do for their clients or their local community for free. Pro bono work can help you get a job and looks great on your CV.
One of the most important reasons to do pro bono work is to provide a benefit to the local community that otherwise would not have been available. As a pro bono volunteer, you could be helping someone secure access to justice at a time when they need it most.
Why do pro bono work?
Beyond a CV boost, pro bono work is the perfect opportunity to develop the skills that you will rely on throughout the rest of your career, whether or not you enter the legal profession. In many cases, you come into direct contact with real clients, which helps to develop communication and teamwork skills.
Pro bono work enables you to learn how to carry out research and draft professional documents as well as how to deliver advice to clients. More than this, you handle the sort of obligations that are required in the workplace, such as expectations of confidentiality and the quality of work.
Pro bono top tips
1) Get involved from the start of your degree and look out for key information from your university
Look out for legal industry events as soon as you start your degree. Familiarise yourself with the university’s employability team, follow the relevant social media channels and keep an eye on your emails.
2) Keep a record of all the skills you’ve gained
This will help when you have job interviews and when you are applying for training contracts etc.
3) Put yourself out there and look out for extracurricular opportunities
There are many opportunities out there for you to get involved in. These opportunities can be found with external placements, with Streetlaw and Miscarriage of Justice projects at some universities and internships with local charities.
Make an effort to get to know and build a rapport with the people you work with, as they may be able to offer you work experience or introduce you to a professional contact who can.
Pro bono at Nottingham Law School
Nottingham Law School offers a wide range of pro bono projects to get involved in for all law students through our ‘teaching law firm’, the multi-award-winning Legal Advice Centre. Our students can volunteer as a student adviser and get involved in our Streetlaw projects, where we send students out into the local community to educate people on their important legal rights and obligations.
One of the Legal Advice Centre’s main developments is the Miscarriage of Justice project, where students investigate alleged wrongful convictions. Our students can volunteer for the Free Representation Unit (FRU) and represent clients at their Employment or Social Security hearing. FRU volunteers help with case preparation and advocacy in tribunal cases under the supervision of caseworkers.
In the past, we have run projects such as the Nottingham Creative Intellectual Property Project and inFrinGeMent, and have offered placements with various organisations such as the Nottingham Refugee Forum.
We are also currently in the process of setting up an Autism Law Clinic. There are so many different projects on offer at Nottingham Law School that there is something to suit everyone.