“Many small voluntary organisations can barely meet their core costs let alone pay for legal advice - LawWorks is an invaluable service.” (Not-for-Profits Programme applicant)
How it works
Where a not-for-profit organisation needs or thinks it may need legal assistance, we can match the organisation with a volunteer solicitor from our network of member law firms and in-house legal teams who can provide advice. The advice is given for free (pro bono).
What we can help with
Our volunteers can advise eligible organisations on intellectual property, employment, property, tax, commercial/contract, insurance, insolvency, data protection, defamation, and company law. Our volunteers can also advise on amending or updating articles.
What we can't help with
Unfortunately our volunteers cannot help with criminal law, immigration law, internal disputes between a charity and its trustees, complaints about a charity, or with specialist charity law matters. These include: choosing a not-for-profit structure, setting it up, or registering with the Charity Commission, but you may want to try another resource for such help (see: Resources and other sources of advice).
One-off issue or long term assistance
The Not-for-Profits Programme offers the casework service and the Honorary Counsel service. The casework service finds specialist volunteers to advise on one-off discrete legal issues. The Honorary Counsel service matches small not-for-profit organisations with volunteer solicitors on a longer-term basis.
Our casework service can match a not-for-profit organisation with a volunteer solicitor, who will work with your organisation in relation to a particular issue. Examples include:
- drafting a contract
- reviewing a lease
- updating a constitution/articles, or
- clarifying rights in a dispute.
We broker legal assistance for one issue at a time. Separate issues can relate to different areas of law and require different volunteer solicitors, so we ask that organisations complete a separate application form for each issue.
Honorary counsel service
The aim of the service is to help small not-for-profit organisations identify potential legal issues before they arise and become more self-sufficient in relation to legal matters. LawWorks does this by matching a small-not-for-profit organisation and a volunteer solicitor (the “Honorary Counsel”), who will work together on a long-term basis to proactively identify and prevent legal issues.
The Honorary Counsel has two main functions:
- to carry out a basic review of the not-for-profit organisation’s main documents, to identify obvious gaps or general issues to be aware of; and
- to provide ongoing advice to the not-for-profit, including answering ad hoc queries; identifying when further legal advice (or non-legal advice) would be needed; and, where appropriate, referring the matter on to LawWorks, eventually helping the organisation to become more self-sufficient in identifying potential legal issues in the future and what can be done to prevent them arising.
Find out more information about the Honorary Counsel service.
Who we can help
The LawWorks Not-for-Profits Programme helps small not-for-profit organisations which predominantly benefit vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals in England and Wales.
We recommend that you find out more about our eligibility criteria.
Due to policy reasons and the types of matters our volunteers are willing or able to assist with, there are unfortunately some occasions when we cannot help.
For capacity reasons we are unable to respond to email queries regarding eligibility. Using the online application form is the quickest and easiest way for eligibility to be assessed.
How to apply
Applying for help is simple. Click the button below to begin the process of applying for casework or honorary counsel.
Please ensure that you have first read our eligibility criteria.
- After receiving your application we will work with you to gather any more relevant information and see how we can help.
- Ultimately each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
For capacity reasons we are unable to respond to email queries regarding eligibility. If you are not certain if your organisation qualifies for free legal assistance please apply and we will work with you to determine your eligibility.
If you have any other questions about the Not-for-Profits Programme, you can email us at: [email protected]