Once again, for the 20th consecutive year, the first week of November sees a jam-packed week of events and comms focusing on pro bono.

To what objective? Ultimately the aim is to encourage the profession in their continued commitment to providing free legal advice to those in need. But the objectives are more tangible; Pro Bono Week provides a practical opportunity for barristers and clerks to learn about the different ways of volunteering. Equally, it enables those running pro bono projects to discuss how their services could be more effective. And the week offers a chance to thank and recognise the efforts of those who volunteer their time. To this end, there are lots of ways to take part in Pro Bono Week. Over the past 20 years, activities have ranged from a bus touring the country delivering free legal advice sessions, through to last year’s 50 virtual events across the UK during the pandemic.

This year the first week of November will see a variety of in person, online and hybrid events. To highlight some examples which may interest readers:

  • At the launch event (6pm, Monday 1 November) a panel will debate the ‘past, present and future’ of pro bono.

  • The In-House Pro Bono Group is hosting ‘In House Counsel and Law Firms Doing Pro Bono Together’ online at 12.30pm, Tuesday 2 November.

  • For those interested in strengthening the rule of law, the evening of Tuesday 2 November will see a panel led by Lady Hale reconvene for the third time to answer ‘where do we go from here’.

  • Hear directly from communities helped by barristers through the Environmental Law Foundation at an online event at 12.30pm, Wednesday 3 November.

  • To see the best and brightest examples of pro bono over the last year, the Bar Pro Bono Awards organised by Advocate will be hosted in the evening on Wednesday 3 November.

  • The Bar Council, IBC and Advocate are hosting a hybrid seminar for clerks and practice managers at 5.30pm, Wednesday 3 November.

  • For those interested in international pro bono, A4ID will be showcasing international opportunities at an online event at 6pm on Thursday 4 November.

But attending an event is not the sum of Pro Bono Week, there are also very practical ways to get involved. First, Pro Bono Week is a great time to sign up to volunteer. Contact Advocate, ask your chambers’ Pro Bono Champion, or alternatively directly volunteer for a scheme such as CLIPs or ELAAS.

Second, consider talking to your colleagues, whether junior or senior, about the benefits of pro bono. Volunteering helps those in need, which itself feels good, but it undoubtedly also benefits the barrister, whether by offering additional advocacy experience, or a chance to develop a new specialism, through to ways to enhance QC and judicial applications. It can also lead to new professional relationships by volunteering with a solicitor, such as through Pro Bono Connect.

Third, Pro Bono Week is a chance to use social media to showcase your own, or your chambers’ involvement in pro bono. A number of law firms now use Pro Bono Week to highlight their commitment to providing free legal help, and chambers are increasingly following suit.

However you get involved, speaking as the Chair of the organising committee encompassing organisations from across the sector, I know each of the pro bono charities and projects would wish to express their gratitude to barristers that are able to volunteer their time during their busy practices.

Full details of all the events can be found at www.probonoweek.org.uk