National pro bono group ProHelp is lobbying for the Law Society to grant continuing professional development (CPD) credit points for pro bono work.
The Law Society is expected to make a decision on the scheme next year following a formal proposal from ProHelp, which has 134 law-firm members, including Allen & Overy, DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, as well as the College of Law.
The move follows formal approval of the scheme by a number of other professional bodies, including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of PR Professionals.
ProHelp chairwoman Alexandra Marks, head of graduate recruitment at Linklaters, says: “The idea is that many professional people find it difficult to get the necessary training to qualify for CPD credits.
“Also, a lot of the skills acquired doing pro bono with [ProHelp] are learnt far better than they would be in a classroom.”
Law Society spokeswoman Isobel Rowley confirmed the proposal would be considered next year as part of a wider review of CPD and solicitor status.
“Continuing professional development is part of a big review of how solicitors get their specialist status that the Law Society will be conducting next year,” she says. “The proposal submitted by ProHelp is one of a number of ideas that the Law Society will be considering in the review.”
Marks stressed the additional value of pro bono work to businesses in recruiting young professionals and boosting the morale of existing staff.
“Businesses whose professionals do pro bono work not only bring huge benefit to the communities they serve, they also become more competitive organisations,” she says.
“As they nourish and develop staff, our members are finding that their productivity has also increased. We want to encourage people to get involved in pro bono not just to do good, but to advance their career.”
ProHelp has 850 members nationally, and seeks to combine lawyers with other professionals, such as architects, accountants, bankers for multi-disciplinary pro bono projects.
It is part of Business in the Community, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) organisation, which includes 73 FTSE 100 companies.