As part of our series celebrating National Pro Bono Week 2015, Jazil Eddaikra takes a look at the work carried out by the charity LawWorks and the effect their projects have on the community.
LawWorks is a national charity with one simple view; access to justice is a right, not a privilege. Thus, it is committed to enabling access to justice through legal advice and it advocates pro bono legal advice to aid individuals in need of help. The work LawWorks carries out allows for a co-ordinated response to those who need free legal advice across the country.
‘Pro bono’ derives from the Latin phrase “pro bono publico”, meaning “for the public good.” LawWorks stresses that “There is possibly no greater gift a qualified lawyer can give than to provide pro bono legal advice…” The charity develops pro bono activity across England and Wales (LawWorks Cymru for the latter) and supports member organisations to achieve high quality pro bono work. It collaboratively develops programmes that fit with the corporate social responsibility objectives of these organisations.
One of the ways in which LawWorks addresses unmet legal need in the community is though its LawWorks Clinics Programme; this facilitates sustainable clinic partnerships between LawWorks members, advice agencies and law schools. There are over 200 clinics and England and Wales and this is underpinned by a clinic network which provides free initial advice to individuals. It is open to barristers, solicitors, trainees and law students. Last year, the clinics supported 29,000 people and members provided legal advice for over 160 not-for-profit organisations.
In addition to supporting people who need legal advice, LawWorks also seeks to develop the knowledge and confidence of lawyers to provide competent pro bono legal advice and to keep abreast of developments in the pro bono sector. The charity provides training in social welfare law and advice skills and it also hosts training events throughout the year, which bring together key stakeholders and partners in the sector.
In 2014 LawWorks received over money from the Government after the response to legal aid cuts which would deny free legal advice to thousands of people. LawWorks projects, however, still rely on lawyers, law students and those who have experience of the law, of which there are only a limited supply. LawWorks high profile does allow for larger campaigns however this does not fill the gap which paid experienced solicitors once occupied.
Some benefits of LawWorks membership include professional indemnity insurance to cover pro bono work conducted as part of their programmes, recognition of pro bono work at the annual LawWorks Pro Bono Awards, and access to the weekly news awareness bulletin ‘LawWorks Weekly’.
If you wish to find out more information about LawWorks then visit their website where they have a number of resources to help everyone from individuals to legal professionals. Don’t forget to check out our series of articles celebrating National Pro Bono Week 2015 here!