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Clifford Chance has been snubbed by a community law centre to which it offers free legal advice.
Hackney Community Law Centre has dumped the firm from its panel of pro bono partners and is seeking a replacement. It is understood that the law centre has approached the Solicitors Pro Bono Group with a view to being partnered with a new firm.
Clifford Chance has had a relationship with Hackney for more than five years. Lawyers offer their services for free at evening legal clinics and the firm also provides Hackney with a part-time receptionist.
The firm was reportedly ditched after Hackney obtained funding for new legal schemes. However, according to one source, the centre was looking for a firm that would provide substantive legal support.
Clifford Chance head of pro bono Michael Smyth said: “We’re winding down our commitment to Hackney progressively over the months to come.”
The firm is searching for new opportunities to provide pro bono support, with a focus on London’s East End.
Clifford Chance already maintains a raft of other pro bono and community service initiatives, seconding 16 trainees every year to Law For All, the Ealing-based not-for-profit provider of legal services in social welfare law. The programme costs Clifford Chance an estimated £250,000 annually. The firm also pays for a receptionist at Wandsworth and Merton Law Centre in Tooting.
Elsewhere, under its community programme, Clifford Chance last year organised a puppet show performance of The Snowman in conjunction with the children from Shapla Primary School in Tower Hamlets.