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Has LAPSO made Pro Bono companies a demand?

During Tony Blair’s government in 2001, Lord Goldsmith, the appointed Attorney General, created the ‘Pro Bono Co-ordinating Committee’ alongside Michael Napier and Irwin Mitchell, both of whom had previously devoted parts of their career to providing free legal advice.[1] However, at the start of their journey, in trying to ‘draw up the dots’ of pro bono work across the country, it has been said that they couldn’t find the dots in the first place.1

The gap in the market led to many pro bono and not for profit organisations setting up, SHU Law being one. These are organisations which provide legal services for citizens who may not be able to afford to pay for legal services or who may not qualify for legal aid.

During the recession, in 2008, the drastic increase in unemployment meant that the amount of people eligible for legal aid soared. However, this also meant that work for pro bono companies surged as some of those who did not qualifying for legal aid, and were deemed to be financially stable, were in fact not.

Now in 2022, we are heading towards another recession. However, this time around pro bono organisations and charities providing legal support are going to be faced with an immense strain which has been building up since 2012, due to the introduction of LASPO, Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment Act. LAPSO has effectively cut over 600,000 off from gaining legal aid leaving them no other option but to use the services of not for profit and pro bono organisations and,[2] with the inevitable unemployment rise around the corner, the demand is set to rocket.

[1] Catherine Baski, Where it all began: Pro bono week 2001-2021 (New Law Journal, October 2021).

[2] Bianca Jackson, Band-aids for bullet holes: pro bono legal services post-LASPO (Family Law, November 2016).



By Eve Topham – Sheffield Hallam University Law Student

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