Nearly 16,000 hours of legal advice have been given free of charge across Greater Manchester in 2003, according to research carried out by LawWorks North and DLA.
In a survey of more than 780 legal professionals across the region, 39 per cent of solicitors, barristers and in house legal teams are involved in some sort of pro bono work.
Ranging from working with local community and charitable organisations to volunteering at law clinics or acting as trustees or school governors, pro bono work is a vital tool in tackling social exclusion and enabling access to justice.
Of the respondents who do not currently undertake any pro bono work, 57 per cent said they would be willing to consider future opportunities if they were given some guidance on how to approach the topic.
The research was carried out by DLA on behalf of LawWorks North, to find out the extent of pro bono activity in the region, particularly as it is traditionally viewed as a London-based activity.
LawWorks North is the northern branch of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group, a national charity committed to increasing the delivery of voluntary legal services to clients and communities in need by facilitating pro bono work.
Clare Kelly, LawWorks North Co-ordinator, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the results of this survey. These findings give us a really strong platform to build on the levels of pro bono activity being carried out in Greater Manchester.
“Pro bono work covers such a variety of topics, from lease advice, employment and general contract matters to wills, inheritance tax and probate. Our job now is to match willing volunteers to the needs – community groups can specify the type of help which is most beneficial and lawyers can choose the project which best meets their capabilities.”
Roy Beckett, managing partner of DLA’s Manchester office, added: “At DLA we believe that corporate social responsibility is an essential part of a lawyer’s role. We have both an obligation and a desire to serve the needs of the wider community which we are involved in and we are pleased to be working alongside LawWorks North to facilitate further pro bono work across the region.”
The full survey results will be presented by LawWorks North and DLA to an audience of leading legal professionals from across the region, including David Steer QC, Leader of the Northern Circuit.