Pro Bono: what’s all the fuss about?

Pro Bono: what’s all the fuss about?


As a Law student, you may or may not have heard about the importance of getting involved in pro bono work in some form or another. But what does that really entail, and why should you give up what little free time you have and spend it doing MORE law?

What is Pro Bono?

‘Pro bono’, literally translated, means for the public good, and generally refers to work that lawyers do for their clients or their local community for free.

At NLS we offer a wide range of pro bono projects for students at all stages of their degrees to get involved in, depending on where your interests lie. You could volunteer as a student adviser in our multi-award winning Legal Advice Centre. You could get involved in our Streetlaw projects, where we send students out into the local community to educate people on their important legal rights and obligations. You could work on our Miscarriage of Justice project, where students investigate alleged wrongful convictions. You could even volunteer for the Free Representation Unit and represent your client at their Employment or Social Security hearing. There are so many different projects on offer at NLS that there is guaranteed to be something that you will want to be a part of.

What’s in it for me?

First and foremost, it can help you get a job! Pro bono work looks great on your CV. A recent survey indicated that 80% of HR specialists at a group of leading law firms were most impressed by CVs which showed evidence of pro bono work, ranking this higher than additional qualifications and paralegal experience.

This is because students who do pro bono work show a special kind of commitment and dedication to the profession. As one of our previous NLS students, now a Human Rights Barrister, said:

‘Those who do pro bono stand out by a mile as it shows passion’

Beyond a CV boost, pro bono work is the perfect opportunity to develop the skills that you will rely on throughout the rest of your career, whether or not you enter the legal profession. You will come into direct contact with real clients which will develop your communication skills no end. You will learn how to draft professional documents and how to deliver advice to your clients. You will have to fully utilise your teamwork and time management skills, and you will find your abilities to carry out research improve dramatically. More than this, you will find yourself subject to the sort of obligations that you could expect to encounter in a workplace, such as expectations of confidentiality and the quality of your work. This is all good practice and will put you one step ahead of the pack when you leave university and go out into the big wide world of work!

What about the people I’m helping?

One of the most important reasons to do pro bono work is to provide a benefit to the local community that otherwise would not have been available. As a pro bono volunteer, you will be helping someone secure access to justice at a time when they need you the most and have nowhere else to turn. In the words of another former NLS student:

“The most surprising thing about the whole experience was how satisfying it was to provide a solution for the client. It reminded me of why I decided to study law in the first place.”

What more do you need to know?!

If you are interested in getting involved with NLS Pro Bono, please come along to our compulsory recruitment lecture on Monday 28 November 2016 at 6pm in Chaucer LT1.

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