Lord Goldsmith urges increase in pro bono work

The former attorney general Lord Goldsmith has called on law students and lawyers to make pro bono an inherent part of legal professional life.

Goldsmith, who recently joined US firm Debevoise & Plimpton, said pro bono is “not an add-on to professional life, but an inherent part of it”.

“The core responsibility of a lawyer is to help people to vindicate their rights and meet their responsibility in a world increasingly dominated by legal considerations,” said Goldsmith.

The former Fountain Court barrister, who is currently taking his solicitor conversion exams, made his plea at the first birthday of Queen Mary, University of London’s free legal advice centre, of which he is the patron.

To coincide with National Pro Bono Week the centre has launched a service for those involved in the arts, advising on copyright, media and contractual issues. This new practice is in addition to the centre advising on landlord and tenant disputes, personal injury and tax, as well as VAT.

In its first year Queen Mary’s pro bono unit advised more than 150 clients from the university and local community, with 64 students being overseen by lawyers from Field Fisher Water-house and Reed Smith Richards Butler.