Pro Bono Project
We are interested in exploring how law firms and chambers can be more involved in supporting the work of Newcastle Law Centre.
This might be through volunteering, fundraising, partnering with us campaigns or joining our management committee.
We are keen to develop partnerships with Law Firms.
Individual lawyers may wish to get involved as an opportunity for personal or career development or simply because they share our belief in access to justice. Junior lawyers may also wish to get greater practical experience of client meetings, advising or advocacy, for example.
Firms might wish to support us as a part of their corporate social responsibility programme. Research also suggests that encouraging involvement in pro bono can benefit a firm’s HR strategy by improving staff recruitment, engagement and retention as well as providing professional development opportunities.
How can commercial law firms help us deliver legal services?
There are a number of ways in which your firm could directly help us deliver legal services to more people in the North East. As a commercial law firm, your lawyers are likely to have expertise in several areas relevant to Newcastle Law Centre e.g. employment, consumer contracts or discrimination in goods and services. But we can provide training and opportunities in other appropriate areas:
- Encourage your staff to volunteer with us – We can offer Legal Advice clinics in a range of areas of law at our office or outreach at venues across the North East. We can provide training and, in addition to exposure to new areas of work, volunteers have a chance to work with a broad range of clients. The minimum volunteering commitment is 2.5 hours per month on an evening or Saturday. Volunteer lawyers would be covered under our PII. See Volunteering for Legal Professionals for more information.
- Set up your own legal advice clinic with us – Commit to staffing 10 legal advice clinics per year, on a designated evening or Saturday, with a minimum of 2 staff members per clinic. The clinic could be appropriately branded “in association with” your firm. Alternatively, some firms set up clinics in collaboration with a client’s in-house legal team or together with other like-minded firms on a rota basis. We aim to remove the administrative burden of running the clinic, which would be delivered through us and covered under our PII.
- Offer one of your trainee solicitors a seat at NLC – Commit to send us one of your trainee solicitors for 66 days per year, to gain valuable experience in a seat in one area of social welfare law. Our senior solicitor is registered with the SRA as a training principal. This seat could be done on a part-time basis alongside their work for you.
How else could you support us?
There are other useful ways in which your firm could support us:
- Consider adopting us as your charity of the year – By raising money to support Newcastle Law Centre, you are supporting local people to get legal advice they might otherwise be unable to access. As a charity, we can claim Gift Aid on qualifying donations and higher rate taxpayers can claim tax relief.
- Support us in kind – Could you offer to print our annual reports or leaflets for us? Could you donate used IT equipment or spare software licences? Could you offer us pro bono legal advice as we explore merger and collaboration arrangements with other organisations?
- Encourage a staff member to become a trustee – Being a trustee and non-executive director of Newcastle Law Centre provides a valuable chance for commercial lawyers to experience governance arrangements first hand and play a part in developing not-for-profit legal services.
- Support Access to Justice – Invite us in to speak or let us write an article for your staff intranet or newsletter about our work and about the changes to legal aid.
- Q. I am not a social welfare lawyer – can I be useful?
- Yes – we can offer training in a new area of Law for you. We are typically looking for volunteers to look at – employment, discrimination, consumer issues and debt. We would also welcome volunteers to look at welfare benefits appeals
- Q. My firm does not have PII for these areas of Law
- That’s fine. We can cover you as a Law Centre volunteer under our PII and provide you with a copy for your reference.
Would you like to know more?
We would love to talk to your more about how you or your firm could help to support Newcastle Law Centre and ensure that we continue to be able to support vulnerable clients who would otherwise be left with no legal advice or representation.