Allen & Overy appoints full-time pro bono co-ordinator

Allen & Overy has become the fourth major City firm to appoint a full-time pro bono officer.

Sophie Forsyth, a lawyer in A&O's employment, pensions and incentives department, has been handed the role of co-ordinating pro bono work across the firm.

Forsyth's appointment comes as A&O looks to make more efficient use of time spent on pro bono work.

The firm has traditionally been involved in a wide range of pro bono work, including the Royal Courts of Justice Citizens Advice Bureau, where its head of litigation, David Mackie QC, is vice-chair of the project. Along with Eversheds and Simmons & Simmons, it also helps run the Battersea Legal Advice Centre.

Forsyth said: “I will be taking the burden of organising pro bono work off the shoulders of our lawyers.”

She said it was very important that senior people continued to do pro bono work as they were good role models.

A&O's move reflects the increasing importance placed by City firms on pro bono work and their desire to have a more structured approach.

Lovell White Durrant was the first firm to appoint a full-time co-ordinator in September last year. Linklaters and Clifford Chance followed suit earlier this year. Solicitors' Pro Bono Group (SPBG) director Peta Sweet said: “It's marvellous that four firms have done something in a year.”

In April the SPBG launched a membership drive backed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham of Cornhill.

Last Wednesday the SPBG held a City reception to celebrate its first birthday and to try to encourage more top 100 firms to become members.

The Attorney General, John Morris QC, praised the group's work and said it would help improve the profession's image.