Pro bono services are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: face to face services are no longer possible yet increased numbers of people are looking for information and advice. The need for good quality legal advice and representation remains as vital as ever. Services are being remodelled so that individuals and not-for-profit organisations can continue to access the legal advice and support that they require.
The pro bono opportunities below enable volunteers to offer legal advice, support and/or representation to people who need it most.
LawWorks virtual pro bono opportunities
These opportunities can all be performed remotely, with access to a phone and/or laptop. Additional support for these vital LawWorks services is especially welcomed and appreciated at this critical time.
Free Legal Answers
Free Legal Answers is an online platform where people on low incomes can describe a legal problem or ask a legal question and receive pro bono legal advice, with a focus on early/initial legal advice on civil law matters.
LawWorks would like to encourage as many solicitors as possible to volunteer for Free Legal Answers. There is no obligation to answer a legal question or problem and participants can ‘unsubscribe’ at any time. The minimum requirements for participation are that a solicitor is at least two years post qualified and has a current practising certificate. Any work undertaken should conform to the Pro Bono Protocol.
Please send any enquiries about Free Legal Answers to [email protected].
The Not-for-Profits Programme connects small not-for-profit organisations in need of legal support with the skills and expertise of volunteer lawyers, strengthening the capacity of those organisations to deliver their services. Issues tackled by these organisations vary enormously but commonly deal with poverty, disability, abuse, social exclusion, and special education needs. In response to the current pandemic, the Not-for-Profits Programme will also be commissioning answers to legal questions related to the effects of COVID-19 of relevance to small NFPs, which will be published on our website.
Organisations apply to LawWorks online. LawWorks assesses applications, including checking that they meet our eligibility criteria, and gathers relevant background information and documents. Once cases are allocated to volunteer lawyers through a bidding process, the LawWorks team remains available to help, should any issues arise, and evaluates experiences of the service.
For questions or expressions of interest please contact the Not-for-Profits Programme Team.
Secondary Specialisation: Voices for Families
“Secondary Specialisation” describes volunteer solicitors providing in-depth legal advice and representation to individuals in an area of law outside their usual practice. In each project LawWorks engages clients and volunteer solicitors work under the supervision of one of LawWorks specialist in-house solicitors, using LawWorks legal guides and template documents.
Secondary Specialisation: Voices for Families
LawWorks runs a project that addresses community care law matters for the families of children with life-limiting conditions. The project is run jointly with Together for Short Lives and partners with a range of hospices and care providers across England and Wales.
Through the programme volunteers provide legal support on commonly occurring problems to families who can access the service through the hospice where their child is receiving treatment.
For questions or expressions of interest please contact Matt Hunt, Head of Not-for-Profits and Secondary Specialisation.
Pro Bono Clinics
The LawWorks Clinics programme provides consultancy and assistance to help organisations establish and support free legal advice clinics that provide advice to clients who are unable to afford legal advice and/or are not eligible for legal aid.
At this time, all clinics have suspended face-to-face advice sessions, but some are still providing advice to clients over the telephone, email or online. In addition, LawWorks are working with some clinic coordinators to support them to transfer their service to offer advice remotely, and to continue to support clients. Clinics are receiving enquiries from clients with a range of queries, including employment related issues as a result of the impact of coronavirus, but also family, housing, probate, immigration, and civil disputes.
By providing advice to clients via telephone or online platforms there are a number of opportunities for volunteers to get involved with well-established and new clinics and provide much needed support to clients.
For further information and to find out about the clinics that you can volunteer with, please contact the LawWorks Clinics Team.
Pro Bono Connect
LawWorks supports the Pro Bono Connect scheme which matches solicitors and barristers acting pro bono on civil matters for individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford legal advice or representation. The scheme, which is free for solicitors and barristers to join, enables lawyers to submit a request for relevant assistance on a case from the other branch of the legal profession. Pro Bono Connect then seeks to match the request for assistance with a member firm or barrister, as appropriate. This ensures a complete pro bono service for clients.
Cases are offered to all member firms/chambers for consideration and there is no obligation to bid for or accept any cases. The scheme could apply to any litigation claim and has already placed a diverse range of cases from unpaid debts, to property fraud, employment law to intellectual property.