The Pro Bono Connect scheme, supported by LawWorks, links solicitors and barristers acting pro bono on civil matters for individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford legal advice or representation. Often a claim or piece of work may reach a stage where it needs input from a barrister perhaps by way of specialist advice, or representation at a hearing. The scheme enables solicitors to be matched up with suitably experienced barristers quickly. The scheme also applies to barristers who are looking for help from solicitors. The effect is a seamless pro bono litigation service for clients.
How it works
A solicitor needing barrister assistance can submit a request form outlining a brief summary of the case and the assistance which is required. This might be for a specific piece of work or for general assistance throughout the claim. The request is then sent to a panel of barristers who bid for the case. If more than one offer is received, then the requesting solicitor and client select who they choose to instruct. Once selected, the barrister is instructed in the usual way.
Similarly, requests from barristers are sent to panel solicitors who bid for any work that is of interest to them, as above.
What happens next
Once a solicitor and barrister have been matched up, and subject to due diligence checks, the pro bono case proceeds in the normal way as a fee paying claim would. For successful claims, representatives are encouraged to apply for a pro bono costs order.
How to get involved
Pro Bono Connect has a panel of member firms and chambers who can be offered cases as requests come in. Membership is free and there is no obligation to bid for or accept any cases. Membership is not required in order to request assistance through the scheme – simply complete a request form on the Pro Bono Connect website.
What legal work is covered?
The scheme covers civil claims only which are litigated or have the potential to result in litigation. The main areas of law covered at present are chancery, common law, commercial law, public law, human rights, insolvency, employment and tax. The scheme is only limited by the experience of its panel members – the more solicitors and barristers join the scheme, the greater the range of work covered.
The benefits of the scheme
Pro Bono Connect has clear benefits for clients who can be represented pro bono by relevant and experienced professionals (barristers and solicitors) throughout. For panel solicitors it gives the opportunity to take on more diverse and challenging claims knowing the case can be supported by counsel where necessary. It also provides the opportunity to become involved in cases outside of their normal range and build up new experience. For barristers it provides the opportunity to work with a range of solicitors firms and to become more involved in more pro bono cases. See what our professionals say about the scheme below.
We are always keen to hear how Pro Bono Connect has helped create collaborative partnerships on particular cases – please get in touch.
“It has been less stressful and much more fun to have solicitors to work with….and they have been invaluable”
“It was very reassuring to be able to access counsel on a pro bono basis quickly”
“Being able to have counsel involved in the case was a huge draw when deciding to take it on as a firm”
“If a pro bono case has solicitors on board, it means I can take on more such cases”
We are grateful to the organisations which have helped us to fund this scheme so far, namely The Access to Justice Foundation, the Farrer & Co Charitable Trust and the Simmons & Simmons Charitable Trust.