No more exam excuses to avoid Pro Bono Week as organisers shift date

A campaign to raise awareness of pro bono in the UK has succeeded in one of its key aims – moving National Pro Bono Week (NPBW) from June to November.

The week will now coincide with this year’s annual pro bono conference on 17 November, which is set to be the largest ever in the UK.

The date shift has also led the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith’s pro bono envoy Mike Napier to write to the heads of all law schools in England and Wales, requesting their participation in this year’s NPBW.

Napier wrote to the schools earlier this month, pointing out that the traditional NPBW date had been moved “specifically to avoid student examinations and to ensure (we hope) that more law schools and students will be keen to take part in events in November”.

The move follows a speech by the Attorney General last June in which he called on law schools to increase their development of pro bono programmes. As reported in The Lawyer’s sister magazine Lawyer2B (November 2006), during the speech at Nottingham Law School, the Attorney General also referred to research conducted last year by LawWorks (formerly known as the Solicitors’ Pro Bono Group), which revealed that 53 per cent of UK law schools now run pro bono projects.

Napier’s letter this month echoes Lord Goldsmith’s call for more action from the schools. “On behalf of the organising committee of NPBW 2007, I would like to ask you to consider making your law school the focal point of NPBW in your local area,” Napier wrote.

Napier goes on to list the variety of ways in which schools can achieve this. They include encouraging the pro bono coordinator, if they have one, to contact him so he can make a link with the NPBW organising committee, by planning an event hosted by the law school or by considering whether the school could contribute to the international aspects of pro bono, an aspect that will be a particular focus of NPBW 2007.