SPBG Midlands launch sparks pro bono fever

Pinsent Curtis initiates own pro bono scheme; Wragges appoints community head

The Solicitors Pro Bono Group (SPBG) scheme LawWorks is branching out into the Midlands at the beginning of next year. The move has prompted Pinsent Curtis Biddle's Birmingham office to launch its first pro bono scheme, while Wragge & Co has appointed a new pro bono coordinator.
As well as Pinsents and Wragges, Eversheds and Addleshaws are among the firms who will participate in the Midlands initiative. According to SPBG director Sue Bucknall, the Birmingham Law Society and the West Midlands Low Pay Unit will also be involved.
Wragges' formal pro bono scheme comes into being this week. The firm intends to work with the SPBG, but the content of its pro bono scheme will be wider than that of LawWorks.
Wragges associate Ste-ven Butts has been promoted to the position of head of community support and is designing a scheme that incorporates pro bono legal advice and community work. Lawyers and non-fee-earners at Wragges already participate in community initiatives, such as mentoring teenagers and young adults.

“The economic downturn will make greater demands on organisations to do everything they can to help the less fortunate”
John Crabtree, Wragge & Co

Wragges senior partner John Crabtree is eager for the firm's employees to keep such community initiatives alive.
“The economic downturn will make greater demands on successful organisations to do everything they can to help the less fortunate,” said Crabtree. “Also, our people told us they wanted to be involved in the local community.”
But he added: “I do think it is important that we offer free legal advice as well, and have a qualified lawyer coordinating these efforts.”
Pinsents' Birmingham office is launching the firm's first formalised pro bono scheme with partner Chris Kelly overseeing the initiative.
Unlike Wragges' scheme, this move is directly linked to the SPBG's planned Midlands launch. The firm has appointed Rabina Kosar, a qualified barrister, to coordinate the scheme.
The SPBG is hoping to launch in the Midlands at the beginning of the New Year.