Former chief justice Frank Clarke to launch Pro Bono Week Ireland
Former chief justice Frank Clarke will join lawyers from some of Ireland’s biggest law firms on Monday to launch the third Pro Bono Week Ireland.
Pro Bono Week Ireland, which runs this year from 22-26 November, celebrates the role played by volunteer lawyers supporting civil society and those in need.
A&L Goodbody, Arthur Cox, Holohan Solicitors, KOD Lyons, Lemans, Mason, Hayes & Curran, Matheson, McCann FitzGerald LLP, Philip Lee and William Fry are among the firms taking part, as well as the Bar Council, the Law Society and PILA.
As well as hearing from Mr Justice Clarke, the launch event will feature presentations from Michelle Ní Longáin, president of the Law Society, and Maura McNally SC, chair of the Bar Council, followed by a fireside chat with PILA legal officer, Danielle Curtis BL, on the impact and future of pro bono in Ireland.
A central objective of this year’s Pro Bono Week is to bring together various stakeholders in the pro bono ecosystem – regulatory bodies, lawyers, law students, non-profits, academics, and businesses – for an engaging conversation on the impact and role of pro bono in tackling important social and legal issues.
Throughout the week there will be a number of workshops hosted by PILA and partner law firms for the NGO sector, covering a myriad of legal issues such as good governance, data protection, and employment law. There will also be a “pro bono bootcamp” aimed at law firms who wish to or are in the early days of establishing their Pro Bono Practice.
Mr Justice Clark said: “I have always stressed that there are many strands to improving access to justice. I see pro bono work as an important part of that process.
“In that context FLAC’s Pro Bono Week provides a significant opportunity not only to encourage the further expansion of pro bono work but also to enhance the way in which the work of those willing to provide their expertise free of charge can be deployed to the greatest effect.”
David Fennelly, chairperson of FLAC, said: “A strong pro bono culture has long been a hallmark of the legal profession in Ireland. From advising individual clients and NGOs to taking landmark legal challenges, barristers and solicitors acting pro bono have made a major contribution not only to the legal profession but to Irish society. This has been indispensable to FLAC’s work over many decades and continues to be today.
“Pro Bono Week Ireland – along with other recent developments such as the Pro Bono Pledge – helps to build the profile of pro bono work across the entire profession and to shine a light on the excellent pro bono work being done by lawyers across Ireland.”
Ms Curtis, PILA legal officer, said: “For 12 years, PILA has worked to drive the pro bono movement in Ireland, ensuring that both lawyers and NGOs have the skills knowledge and networks to use the law as a tool in tackling critical social problems.
“This celebration comes at an exciting time, as in light of the Pro Bono Pledge, more and more lawyers look to play a role in addressing an unmet legal need – one which has been vastly highlighted by Covid-19. Pro Bono is just one piece in the access to justice puzzle, but it is an important piece through which the legal profession can have a tangible impact.”
Ms Ní Longáin said: “The Law Society of Ireland is proud to support the work of FLAC and the Pro Bono Pledge once again this year.
“The undertaking of legal work for people on a pro bono basis, both within and outside the pledge, is ingrained in the culture and tradition of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland. The cumulative effect of this work represents an important contribution by the profession to the common good and to the administration of justice.
“We remind solicitors that often the case that will live longest in their minds, and about which they will feel the greatest satisfaction when they reflect at the end of their careers, will be a case for which they were never paid and never expected to be paid.”