Pro Bono Week recognises voluntary contributions made by legal profession
PRO Bono Week 2021 is starting today, 1 November, in the UK, and offers an opportunity to recognise and support the voluntary contributions made by the legal profession in giving free legal help to those in need.
The Faculty of Advocates has always had a tradition of providing help on a pro bono basis, which is in keeping with its commitment to promoting access to justice in Scotland. This could be due in some part to advocates being part of a collegiate body with a strong ethos of supporting other advocates, whether that be with legal or practical advice. It is perhaps not such a great leap to helping the wider community in a similar way where such help is needed.
The Faculty’s Free Legal Services Unit was set up in 2003 to formalise how members were providing free legal advice and representation to members of the public via advice agencies. The unit enables pro bono assistance to be channelled to where it is most required.
Requests for assistance do not come directly to the FLSU. It has a list of accredited advice agencies and it is through referrals by these agencies that applications for assistance from Faculty members are considered. Should the FLSU Committee put a referral forward for consideration to Faculty members, advocates who volunteer their assistance can provide advice or representation. The advice can be either in the form of a written opinion or verbal advice. Representation can be in any court or tribunal in Scotland, or at a mediation. ‘Devils’, the term for those who are training to become advocates, can also volunteer for appropriate cases and put their training into practice.
For my part, that was my first introduction to the FLSU. When I was devilling I represented some applicants in employment cases. I was able to draw on helpful assistance from some of the most experienced counsel within the Faculty, who specialised in employment law, on the more complex legal aspects of the cases. Working with the Citizens Advice Bureaux we obtained some great results. It possibly gave me a false expectation about how smoothly my advocacy practice would develop thereafter!
Read the full article in The Scotsman here