The Attorney General Baroness Scotland has launched an international database of pro bono work and key principles with the aim of encouraging best practice in the field.
The launch came as lawyers, barristers and law schools showcased their pro bono credentials to mark the seventh annual Pro Bono ;Week ;last ;week
Scotland said the database would enable those working on international pro bono projects to take a more strategic approach to the work. In addition, she said it would be a valuable tool for attracting new legal resources.
“A strategic approach helps to identify whether problems ;are ;better addressed from looking at them from various different angles, rather than simply taking one single, sectorial approach,” said Scotland. “This can often ensure that the pro bono services provide more effective answers for the need for legal assistance. It offers a problem-solving approach that has often worked highly effectively.”
In time the database, which was developed with technical help from Clifford Chance, will allow firms to log summaries of the international pro bono projects they have undertaken.
It is also expected to become a tool for firms looking for additional resources to contribute to cases.
The database will be available on the Attorney General’s pro bono coordinating committee’s website (probonoUK.net) and will be run by the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Institute of Legal Executives and the International Bar Association, along with the College of Law.
It will initially be for the use of the members of the International Pro Bono Committee, but safeguards will be added to allow much wider access.
It coincides with the launch of a core set of principles for international pro bono work, which has also been established by the four professional bodies.
Law Society president Paul Marsh said: “At no time can these values have been more important.
“The launch of the Attorney General’s database and ;principles ;marks another key stage in helping meet the unmet legal need in this country and in the developing world. The three branches of the profession are proud to be at the heart of this.”
In 2008 the total financial equivalent of pro bono legal advice provided by solicitors alone was estimated at more than £300m.