The Solicitors Pro Bono Group has landed a £90,000 grant from the Law Society's Charitable Fund. The grant – one of around £200,000-worth of cash awards handed out to good causes every year – will be spread across two years.
A Law Society spokes-man says: “The group is doing very good work which needs to continue. We are committed to the development of pro bono work and the promotion of work done.”
Barristers, he says, enjoy an enormous amount of recognition for the pro bono work that they undertake, “but the truth is, that most pro bono work is done by solicitors”.
“Solicitors get loads of crap from imbeciles who accuse them of being fat cats – it is time they had some recognition for the good work they do as well,” he adds.
Nine out of 10 law firms undertake pro bono work, with the average solicitor offering 37 hours of free advice per year.
Pro Bono Group director Peta Sweet says the grant provides a welcome security net for her fledgling organisation.
The group's biggest achievement, she says, “is putting the issue on the profession's agenda – no-one was talking about it before”.
She adds that it is very difficult to get a clear picture of what lawyers are really doing in terms of pro bono work and calls on the Law Society to increase its efforts to promote the benefits of the sector among new lawyers entering the profession.
The Solicitors' Pro Bono Group has just published a guide to pro bono opportunities open to Welsh and English lawyers. The guide is available free to group members and costs £15 to non-members, call 0171 929 5601 for details.