Pro Bono Watch

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Jess Campbell explains how pro bono can help pupils find their feet; introduces the first set of Pro Bono Patrons; and celebrates the chambers already signed up to raise vital funds in this year’s London Legal Walk


The naturalist and writer Edwin Way Teale wrote: ‘The world’s favourite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.’ As pupils across England and Wales start their second six, it is the perfect opportunity to reflect on how far you have come and look forwards to how you wish to shape your career at the Bar.

From their second six, pupils are able to take pro bono work through the Bar Pro Bono Unit. By signing up as a Panel Member, not only are you helping vulnerable applicants receive access to justice, but also building foundations for the next step in your career. Pro bono provides the opportunity for you to appear in higher courts or before an influential judge; act in interesting cases that might not otherwise cross your desk; broaden your practice and experience new areas of law; and receive official recognition as a nominee in our annual Bar Pro Bono Award.

We know you are busy and we just expect three days of pro bono assistance per year. We only contact you about cases that match your level of expertise and specialism; and you pick the right piece of work for you.

Second six and beyond

During her second six as a pupil at Fourteen, Rhiannon Wilcock advised and represented Jack* (not his real name) pro bono in discharging a non-molestation order. Jack went through several other hearings and Rhiannon chose to represent him again once she had secured tenancy at St Philips Chambers. ‘Volunteering for the Unit helped me increase the amount of time I spent in court during pupillage which undoubtedly helped me to obtain tenancy,’ she explains. The committee was ‘particularly impressed’ by her pro bono experience and she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take on such an interesting case otherwise. The case was ultimately successful and Rhiannon found that the case gave her ‘an enormous sense of satisfaction’.

The Bar Pro Bono Award

In recent years, several nominees of the annual Bar Pro Bono Award have received praise for taking on pro bono cases early in their careers. Thomas Wilson of 1 Garden Court demonstrated his commitment by dedicating over 30 hours of preparation to a family law case due to appear in the Court of Appeal.

In this complex legal case, Tom appeared in front of Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Tomlinson. Lady Justice Black expressed her gratitude for Tom’s pro bono assistance in her judgment and the case gained Tom significant exposure, leading to his nomination. His appearance in the Court of Appeal also led to subsequent regular appearances in the High Court. Tom says that taking pro bono cases as a new barrister has been ‘helpful to [his] career in many ways’. Deirdre Fottrell QC said of his work: ‘It seems to me to be the epitome of the engagement and commitment that the Unit seeks and needs from the junior Bar.’

Future of the Young Bar

The final word must go to Richard Hoyle, Chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee. Why does he think barristers in the early stages of their careers should take pro bono cases? ‘It is a form of charity which feels natural, as barristers are “on home turf”, and the effort you put in readily translates into tangible results […] All in all, I consider that pro bono work is valuable and an often overlooked aspect of professional practice – those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to give up some of our time for free should consider whether they can take a case via the Unit.’

The whole Bar makes a very important pro bono contribution in the public interest. But as all agree, pro bono is an adjunct to and not a substitute for a proper system of publicly funded legal assistance. What you do by volunteering is to help prevent the most vulnerable people from missing out on access to justice for their deserving cases.

Join the panel by emailing Nina: enquiries@barprobono.org.uk

Pro Bono Patrons 2018

Launched in March, the Pro Bono Patrons scheme recognises those who provide core support to the Bar Pro Bono Unit. This funding is essential to enable us to help hundreds of people achieve access to justice. Acknowledging those who supported us from the start such as Fountain Court Chambers alongside inaugural Pro Bono Patrons like Brick Court Chambers, this scheme provides a way for our supporters to publicly share their pro bono commitment. Patrons will display the mark on their website, email signature and other publicity materials and are recognised prominently on the Unit website.

There are three levels: entry to the Bronze Circle begins at £1,000, the Silver Circle begins at £3,500 and the Gold Circle begins at £8,000. See barprobono.org.uk.

Our first patrons:

Gold Circle: Brick Court Chambers (Inaugural Patron); Fountain Court Chambers
Silver Circle: James Ramsden QC; Blackstone Chambers
Bronze Circle: Louis Flannery QC; Ian Higgins; Legal Practice Management Association; Landmark Chambers; Selborne Chambers; Institute of Barristers’ Clerks

The London Legal Walk 2018

This year’s London Legal Walk returns on Monday 21 May. Many chambers share their fundraising between the Bar Pro Bono Unit (25%), Free Representation Unit (25%) and London Legal Support Trust (50%) Last year an impressive £800,000 was raised, and we are hoping even more will be raised in 2018.

To sign up for the walk and to find out more, please visit the LLST website.

Chambers already signed up for the London Legal Walk 2018

1 Chancery Lane; 1 Crown Office Row (London); 1MCB Chambers; 1 Pump Court; 1GC Family Law; 1 King’s Bench Walk; 2 Hare Court; 2 Bedford Row; 2 Dr Johnson’s Buildings; 2TG; 3 Dr Johnson’s Buildings; 3 Hare Court; 3 Verulam Buildings; 4 Paper Buildings; 4 Pump Court; 5 Essex Court; 5RB; 6 Pump Court; 7 BR Chambers; 9 Bedford Row; 9 Gough Square; 9 King’s Bench Walk; 10 King’s Bench Walk; 11 KBW; 12 King’s Bench Walk; 15 New Bridge Street; 20 Essex Street; 23 Essex Street; 25 Bedford Row; 36 Group; 39 Essex Chambers; Arden Chambers; Atkin Chambers; Blackstone Chambers; Brick Court Chambers; Carmelite Chambers; Charter Chambers; Cloisters; Coram Chambers; Crown Office Chambers; Doughty Street Chambers; Drystone Chambers; Erskine Chambers; Essex Court Chambers; Falcon Chambers; Farrar’s Building; Five Paper; Fourteen; Francis Taylor Building; Furnival Chambers; Garden Court Chambers; Goldsmith Chambers; Hailsham Chambers; Hardwicke; In Place of Strife, The Mediation Chambers; Keating Chambers; Lamb Chambers; Landmark Chambers; Littleton Chambers; Maitland Chambers; Matrix Chambers; Monckton Chambers; New Court Chambers (London); No5 Chambers; Outer Temple Chambers; QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers; Quadrant Chambers; Radcliffe Chambers; Selborne Chambers; Serjeants’ Inn; Serle Court; South Square Chambers; Tanfield Chambers; Temple Garden Chambers; Three Raymond Buildings; Whitestone Chambers; Wilberforce Chambers; XXIV Old Buildings

Contributor Jess Campbell, Chief Executive of the Bar Pro Bono Unit

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Jess Campbell

Jess is Chief Executive of the Bar Pro Bono Unit, before which she spent five years at the Bar Council as head of policy for regulatory issues and law reform.