The LawWorks Law School Pro Bono and Clinics Report 2014

This report contains the findings of a survey carried out on behalf of LawWorks. The research identifies those law schools that are currently active in such work and examines the nature of this work and a range of operational issues.

Questions were asked about partnership and training, insurance, supervisory arrangements, whether the work forms an assessed part of the students’ education and the presence and extent of funding, both within the institution and external to it. The range of questions was significantly more extensive in this survey than on previous occasions.


The 2014 survey’s principal facts and findings are as follows:

  • The survey was sent to 99 institutions with 109 identifiable ‘law schools’ (some providers having multiple Centres).
  • Survey responses were received from 80 separately-sited law schools representing 73% of all law schools surveyed (81% of institutions). In comparison 80 responses from separately-sited law schools were surveyed in 2010, representing 67% of law schools
  • Of those that responded to the survey, 96% do pro bono work.  Assuming none of the law schools who failed to respond carry out pro bono work, then at least 70% of all law schools are now involved in pro bono and/or clinical activity. In the 2010 survey of those that responded to the survey, 91% did pro bono work.  This therefore sees a marginal increase in the number of law schools doing pro bono and clinical work
  • These figures continue to represent a historically increasing amount of pro bono and clinical activity. Between 2006 and 2010 the increase was 33%.The increase in the 2014 survey shows a 5% increase. The 2006 survey showed that 46% of all law schools were doing pro bono work and suggested that at least 60% of law schools would be involved with pro bono work in the foreseeable future. This figure was borne out. Predictably, given the number of law schools now engaged in pro bono and clinical work the increase is slowing down
  • The current survey reveals a much greater range and number of pro bono clinics in UK law schools compared with previous years. According to responses public legal education (Street Law and other awareness-raising programmes) can be found at 67 of the 80 responding law schools. Generalist advice clinics can be found at 45 law schools, placements at 41, subject-specialist advice clinics at 32, miscarriage of justice (Innocence Project) clinics at 21 and court and tribunal representation at 18. There was also a range of quasi-legal pro bono work reported including from-filling clinics and mentoring schemes
  • Six thousand two hundred and fifty eight (6,258) students were reported as being actively involved in pro bono and clinical work in the year 2009/10 which, if averaged across each respondent, gives a total of 85 students doing pro bono in each law school. The 2014 survey shows that 6,119 students are currently involved but only 48 of the 80 respondents gave figures. Based on these 48 and averaged out across providers doing pro bono work this equates to 127 at each institution. Of course this is only an average. Some law schools reportedly involve many more than this. If however this average was attributed to those saying they do pro bono and clinical work but who did not provide details of student numbers then a further 4,000 students could be added to the overall total. We are confident that the number actually doing pro bono work is significantly more than 6,119 in the light of the number of law schools reporting they do such work and the number and range of clinics reported
  • Clinics are increasingly becoming assessed as a credit bearing part of the curriculum. Previously only a small percentage assessed students work (only 10% of law schools in 2010 assessed student performance). Today this total is 25%
  • The amount of money provided by external donors has decreased in relative terms, year on year. Half of all law schools doing pro bono work in 2010 did not receive any external funding and in nearly one third of cases there was no funding from the law school either. The 2014 survey shows that 80% of clinics receive no external funding (although they may receive help in kind – for example the provision by law firms of solicitor supervisors) but law schools are meeting core costs through the provision of premises, equipment and other facilities and (academic and administrative) staff

We would like to thank everyone who helped us make this report possible:

Damian Carney, School of Law, University of Portsmouth

Frank Dignan, Faculty of Law, University of Hull

Richard Grimes, York Law School, University of York

Grace Kelly, LawWorks

Rebecca Parker, School of Law, University of Northumbria

We are also hugely grateful to LexisNexis for publishing this report and for their continued support of LawWorks and our student pro bono work.


Year of Publication

Type of Resource

Date of publication

Friday, October 31, 2014