Following a successful pilot and development stage, the charity is initially using the portal for its Not-for-Profits Programme which connects hundreds of smaller charities with free legal advice from (so far) over 40 leading law firms and in-house legal teams.
Originally developed by Justice Connect in Australia, their award-winning portal has been adapted for use in the UK (initially in England and Wales) and other international jurisdictions. The Portal connects lawyers with pro bono opportunities from one place - efficiently, simply and securely.
The Portal will be available to law centres, advice agencies and others to directly post their pro bono opportunities and connect with law firms and in-house teams. Alternatively, the pro bono opportunities can be sent to LawWorks to be added to the Portal.
Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of LawWorks, said:
“We are incredibly excited about the official launch of the Pro Bono Portal and its ability to better match unmet legal need with pro bono volunteers. The support of Justice Connect has been invaluable, and we are incredibly grateful for the engagement and enthusiasm of our members and others, not least in supporting the move of our Not-for-Profits Programme onto the Portal.
We believe there will be numerous benefits to our volunteers with the Not-for-Profits Programme on the platform, including greater flexibility, a simpler brokerage process, personalised weekly emails featuring opportunities, direct messaging, and tracking the opportunities members are interested in.
We are ambitious for the Portal and its potential to become a national ‘one-stop shop’ for the whole solicitors profession and others seeking legal pro bono and other volunteer opportunities.”
When registering on the Portal participating law firms and in-house legal teams can identify their preferred areas of law and types of pro bono or projects. They can access and review the opportunities available and choose which they are interested in. LawWorks are working with a range of stakeholders to promote awareness of the Portal and to maximise its reach and full potential, including an advisory group with representatives of law firms, in-house legal teams, Justice Connect and the law centre and advice community.
In 2020 the LawWorks Nor-for-Profits programme connected over 240 smaller charities and social enterprises, working with vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals, families and communities, with pro bono legal advice. The not-for-profits supported worked during the year with an estimated 2,400,000 individuals.
The Not-for-Profits Programme will be the first of LawWorks’ programmes to entirely transition to the new platform. The team are delighted to be using the Portal to broker all volunteering opportunities for LawWorks’ flagship Casework and Honorary Counsel services and LawWorks is grateful to its Programme advisory group of solicitors and pro bono coordinators for their valuable input along the way. Reed Smith, a member firm in the Programme advisory group, has stated:
“It is great to see LawWorks introducing new legal tech to improve efficiencies in the delivery of pro bono support for not-for-profits. Reed Smith has worked with LawWorks for many years and we are excited at the prospect of supporting more of LawWorks’ partners through the new Pro Bono Portal.”
In addition to the Portal, LawWorks is supporting and developing other digital platforms including Free Legal Answers, enabling individuals to request initial or one-off legal advice, and The Jeanie Project (currently in development), which helps gather relevant information for those seeking free legal advice.
- LawWorks (the Solicitors Pro Bono Group) is a charity that promotes, supports and facilitates pro bono legal services that extend access to the law for individuals and communities in need and the organisations that assist them. LawWorks supports a network of over 300 independent pro bono clinics across England and Wales, and facilitates free legal advice for smaller charities and social enterprises through its Not-For-Profits Programme. LawWorks is supported by the Law Society of England and Wales, the independent professional body for solicitors.
- The LawWorks Not-for-Profits Programme brokers legal advice to small not-for-profit organisations on a wide range of legal issues (like drafting a contract, reviewing a lease, updating a constitution/articles, or clarifying rights in a commercial dispute), to support the continuation and expansion of their services to people in need. The advice is given for free (pro bono).
- Justice Connect is an Australian charity that has built an award winning Pro Bono Portal. They are looking to make their platform available to clearinghouses at low or no cost. For more information please visit https://probonoportal.org.
- For more information about the Portal and how to get involved (as a pro bono lawyer or an organisation or project with pro bono requests) contact LawWorks at: firstname.lastname@example.org Legal and advice agencies can submit their triaged opportunities to LawWorks via an online form or can get in touch with LawWorks about having direct access to the platform.