Significant progress on pro bono front

Clifford Chance's expected appointment of a full-time administrator to co-ordinate its pro bono programme is a further positive development on the pro bono front.

Lovell White Durrant has already taken a similar step with its recruitment last year of a lawyer in this area of practice, while Linklaters is planning a similar appointment in the near future.

These developments represent considerable progress on the pro bono front and show the willingness of firms to put energy and resources into manning such projects.

Of course, we must recognise that it is considerably easier for the bigger firms to take such steps than other practices across the country, many of whom also undertake considerable amounts of work for free.

However, these smaller firms simply do not have the resources required to undertake such work on a major scale, although it surprising just how much is actually carried out for free by such firms. And it is not impossible for small practices to become organised on this front.

Indeed, the first firm to hire a full-time pro bono co-ordinator was small West End firm Simons Muirhead & Burton some years ago.

Pro bono work not only gives something back to society, it is also good for the image of the profession. And while it has taken solicitors a long time to recognise this, it looks like significant progress is finally being made.

The contribution of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group (SPBG) is a key element in assisting the profession as there are many issues which need to be addressed for the general development of this area of practice. Cross-fertilisation of ideas is important at this stage and the SPBG conference later this year should assist with this.

After all, the more information available to lawyers, the easier it is to formulate a strategy.