Irish legal profession to celebrate third Pro Bono Week, calling for increased participation in pro bono.
18 November 2021
On Monday, 22 November 2021, lawyers from A&L Goodbody, Arthur Cox, Holohan Solicitors, KOD Lyons, Leman's, Mason, Hayes & Curran, Matheson, McCann FitzGerald LLP, the Bar Council of Ireland, Philip Lee, PILA (The Public Interest Law Alliance a project of FLAC), and William Fry will come together for the third Pro Bono Week Ireland which celebrates the role played by volunteer lawyers supporting civil society and those in need.
Pro Bono Week Ireland, which runs from 22 – 26 November, will be launched on Monday 22 November 2021 by former Chief Justice Frank Clarke. The event will also see presentations from President of the Law Society Michelle Ni Longain and Chair of the Bar Council of Ireland Maura McNally SC. The launch will be followed by a fireside chat with PILA Legal Officer, Danielle Curtis BL, on the impact and future of pro bono in Ireland.
It promises to be an excellent week of events and a great opportunity to celebrate pro bono work across the legal profession. A central objective of this year’s Pro Bono Week is to bring together various stakeholders in the pro bono ecosystem – regulatory bodies, lawyers, law students, non-profits, academics, and businesses – for an engaging conversation on the impact and role of pro bono in tackling important social and legal issues. Throughout the week there will be a number of workshops, hosted by PILA and partner law firms, for the NGO sector, covering a myriad of legal issues such as good governance, data protection, and employment law. There will also be a Pro Bono Bootcamp which is aimed at law firms who wish to or are in the early days of establishing their Pro Bono Practice. All details of events can be found here.
Ahead of the week, Frank Clarke CJ notes:
'I have always stressed that there are many strands to improving access to justice. I see Pro Bono work as an important part of that process. In that context FLAC's Pro Bono Week provides a significant opportunity not only to encourage the further expansion of pro bono work but also to enhance the way in which the work of those willing to provide their expertise free of charge can be deployed to the greatest effect.
Chairperson of FLAC, David Fennelly said;
"A strong pro bono culture has long been a hallmark of the legal profession in Ireland. From advising individual clients and NGOs to taking landmark legal challenges, barristers and solicitors acting pro bono have made a major contribution not only to the legal profession but to Irish society. This has been indispensable to FLAC’s work over many decades and continues to be today. Pro Bono Week Ireland – along with other recent developments such as the Pro Bono Pledge – helps to build the profile of pro bono work across the entire profession and to shine a light on the excellent pro bono work being done by lawyers across Ireland."
According to Danielle Curtis, PILA Legal Officer,
“For 12 years, PILA has worked to drive the pro bono movement in Ireland, ensuring that both lawyers and NGOs have the skills knowledge and networks to use the law as a tool in tackling critical social problems. This celebration comes at an exciting time, as in light of the Pro Bono Pledge, more and more lawyers look to play a role in addressing an unmet legal need – one which has been vastly highlighted by COVID19. Pro Bono is just one piece in the access to justice puzzle, but it is an important piece through which the legal profession can have a tangible impact”
Maura McNally, SC, Chair of The Bar of Ireland endorsing the growing initiative said;
"Pro bono legal services have always formed part of the legal profession’s responsibility to the wider public; and today more so with the ever increasing justice gap. Accordingly, the work of PILA and other bodies, in building capacity with NGOs and Civil society groups in responding to the legal and regulatory challenges underlines the contribution that the professions make.
The Bar of Ireland congratulates the leadership shown by PILA; and along with our own Voluntary Assistance Scheme and signatories to the Pledge; for their commitment to assisting those who require access to justice, access to legal information and access to the courts.
Advocating for a better resourced Court and legal aid system must also form part of that public interest role."
Michelle Ní Longáin, President of the Law Society of Ireland said;
“The Law Society of Ireland is proud to support the work of FLAC and the Pro Bono Pledge once again this year.
The undertaking of legal work for people on a pro bono basis, both within and outside the pledge, is ingrained in the culture and tradition of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland. The cumulative effect of this work represents an important contribution by the profession to the common good and to the administration of justice.
We remind solicitors that often the case that will live longest in their minds, and about which they will feel the greatest satisfaction when they reflect at the end of their careers, will be a case for which they were never paid and never expected to be paid.“