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05.11.20

Thinking About Starting Pro Bono Work?

By Tom Hope, Sheffield Hallam Law Student

Types of pro bono work and pathways

Pro Bono is not limited to any one type of legal work, but instead spans a plethora of available pathways that lead you to helping a vast number of possible people, with issues and concerns that cover many areas of law. This voluntary work ranges from:

  • Research of the law
  • Preparing or creating documents
  • Submitting applications or claims on someone‚Äôs behalf, such as a CICA or Employment claim
  • Advice on negotiating the courts and their service
  • General one-time advice sessions
  • Or even broader, more international-based work

 

Starting pro bono Work; a quick guide of considerations.

  • Have a plan in mind: know what area of law you would like to focus on, the type of work it will involve, and the medium through which you can perform it. Some lawyers will adopt pro bono work alongside their regular clients during their time with a firm, others will embark in more freelance capacities, or even sign up with a charity. How you conduct your pro bono work is essential for what will come out of it.

 

  • Know your strengths: understand where your expertise may lie and pursue pro bono work there. Although free, it must stand up to the quality of paid work. Having a particular expertise and running with it makes pro bono work that much easier for you to offer great service.

 

  • Ensure you have the capacity: while pro bono work may be attractive with its charitable nature, it comes at the cost of your time and personal expense. No pay means you must rely on other means to earn a living, and so pro bono work should only be undertaken when you yourself are comfortably able to do so, financially, and timewise.

 

  • Understand why you chose pro bono: without the tangible reward of payment, pro bono work runs the risk of becoming an unnecessary chore if your motivation behind it is unclear or unsteady. Before starting pro bono work, it is important that you appreciate your own motivations for doing so, what you hope to gain, and how your work will affect others. Remember, pro bono is entirely voluntary, but people will still rely on you, so make sure to keep the great benefits of pro bono work in mind and understand what it entails.
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