Profession-wide initiative launched to recognise pro bono efforts of individual UK lawyers

Scheme backed by the Lady Chief Justice will name lawyers who have done 25 hours or more free work annually
Portrait photograph of Lady Justice Carr

Dame Sue Carr

An initiative launched by the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Committee has set out to boost recognition for the free legal work undertaken by UK lawyers in the community. 

The Pro Bono Recognition List for England and Wales will name all legal professionals who have contributed at least 25 hours of pro bono legal services in the preceding calendar year, whether in private practice or as in-house lawyers. 

The list is being promoted by the Law Society, Bar Council and major pro bono legal organisations and has the judiciary’s support, with Lady Chief Justice, Dame Sue Carr, having agreed to become the list’s patron.

“Solicitors and barristers have a long history of volunteering their time to provide free legal advice and representation to individuals and charities who cannot otherwise pay for help,” she said.

“Through this new initiative, I am keen to recognise all those lawyers who give their time pro bono to help others and make a difference in their community.”

In order to be included on the first list – for work undertaken in 2023 – lawyers must submit their details by 24 May. The list will be published in June and a logo will be distributed to everyone featured on it. 

Nick Emmerson, president of the Law Society, said: “Pro bono work plays a crucial role in bridging the justice gap for individuals and communities alike, making legal services accessible to those who otherwise might be left vulnerable.”

Bar Council chair Sam Townend KC underlined the widespread engagement of barristers in pro bono efforts, noting that nearly half of all barristers reported participating in such work last year. 

“While not a replacement for a fully funded legal aid system, pro bono work is a necessary part of our system and says something important about the legal community’s commitment to seeking to ensure access to legal advice and representation,” he said.

Toby Brown, chair of pro bono charity LawWorks, who leads the list’s steering group, emphasised the collaborative nature of the initiative, which spans groups including the Access to Justice Foundation, Advocate, Advocates for International Development, the UK government’s Law Officers, the In-House Pro Bono Group and the National Pro Bono Centre. 

He said the list reflected “a shared goal that lawyers from all sizes of organisations should be recognised for their pro bono commitment”.

The list’s launch comes hard on the heels of the launch of the UK In-House Pro Bono Pledge, which has the support of companies including Coca-Cola, GSK, ITV, Ocado and Goldman Sachs.

Click here to submit your details to the scheme.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]