12 November 2008
One week, two marathons, a lengthy swim and a grueling bike ride from Paris to London - and no Im not talking about what Ive done for National Pro Bono Week. It was, in fact, what a team of Jones Day lawyers did last year to raise a massive 100k for Cancer Research.
But, because I seem to have been nominated as the Queen of everything pro bono related here at Lawyer 2B, Ive been around London finding out what has been going on - albeit on public transport rather than on foot.
The catch line for the campaign is Giving time - making a difference - a phrase that really came into its own at the launch on Monday.
A mock trial, which tackled the issues surrounding knife crime, was kicked off at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Bleary eyed teenagers from The Behaviour Support Service Resource Base in Camden huddled together in the jury box trying to concentrate on the mock trial even though some were clearly not ready to be out of bed.
The youngsters were given the task of deciding whether a young boys fatal stabbing was an accident or indeed murder. It was brilliant to watch them take in the evidence and ponder over what should be done. After much deliberation, the jury of yoofs unanimously decided that the killer be subject to life in prison for his crime - a sentence which provoked laughter from the courtroom.
The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC and the Lord Chief Justice were just a couple of bigwigs who turned out for the event. To me, it really demonstrated the many ways that legal professionals can volunteer to the benefit of the community by helping people to understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to the law.
My pro bono duties for that day didnt stop at the trial - that evening I went along to BPP Law School in Waterloo for a presentation by Jones Day. I wanted to see what a massive firm like Jones Day did in terms of pro bono - and I must say I was very impressed.
Watching a selection of video clips of Jones Day teams climbing, running and cycling for various charities really put into context how much time, effort and organisation not to mention masses of willpower and determination goes in to taking part in pro bono projects.
But after the video slides stopped and I had recovered from seeing lots of fit, scantily clad men in tight cycling shorts, my attention was turned to what the firm did on a quieter scale.
The firm is involved in a range of pro bono activities, from civil liberties and death row cases to assistance with community projects and law centres.
And when a trainee was asked by a sceptical law student, Why didnt you just go into legal aid if you wanted to do so much good? How is it that you are now getting highly paid at a big law firm? And, I must admit, this is what I wouldve probably thought before looking into all this pro bono stuff. But now I realise that just because you work in the City doesnt mean you cant get involved in pro bono activities. If you want to put in the time - you can make a difference.
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