A-Z Pro Bono Legal Advice
Published 04.07.16 at 16:12
Pro bono services are professional services, which are provided ‘for the public good' and voluntarily. Pro bono legal services are in general delivered by qualified solicitors or law students under the supervision of qualified solicitors to individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford to pay and don't have access to public and alternative means of funding.
We have compiled a list of pro bono legal services whose volunteers can answer your queries on a range of issues from intellectual property and commercial contracts to family and housing matters.
The following umbrella organisations can refer you to relevant pro bono services or provide initial legal advice:
The National Pro Bono Centre is a charity which is designed to be a "hub" for pro bono charities across the legal sector. It supports the wide range of pro bono projects and brokerage which the charities support, helping individuals and community groups all over England and Wales.
The Centre houses the profession's national clearing houses for legal pro bono work delivered in England and Wales: the Bar Pro Bono Unit, LawWorks (the Solicitors' Pro Bono Group) and the CILEx Pro Bono Trust (CILEx PBT).
A number of other legal charities, including Access to Justice Foundation, London Legal Support Trust and Pro Bono Community are also housed within the Centre.
The Centre is designed to be a "hub" for pro bono charities across the sector and supports the wide range of pro bono projects and brokerage which the charities support, helping individuals and community groups all over England and Wales.
The office on Chancery Lane in London provides a central resource for charities who help people seeking pro bono legal advice and representation.
The Bar Pro Bono Unit is a charity which helps to find pro bono (free) legal assistance from volunteer barristers. Barristers can represent you in any court/tribunal, give legal advice in a meeting, give legal advice in writing and draft documents such as skeleton arguments.
Normally barristers can only deal with clients through a solicitor. A solicitor's role is different to that of a barrister. However, the Bar Pro Bono Unit can arrange for a barrister to assist you directly, due to its direct access licence. When they do so, they do the work that a barrister (not solicitor) would usually do.
The Bar Pro Bono Unit will consider cases in any area of law, in any area of England and Wales. They cannot help in cases unless they receive your application with at least three weeks' notice before your hearing date or deadline.
Citizens Advice provides free, confidential and impartial advice. Its goal is ‘to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face'.
People come to Citizens Advice with all sorts of issues. You may have money, benefit, housing or employment problems. You may be facing a crisis, or just considering your options.
Advice is available face-to-face at one of the centres in over 3,500 locations, by telephone or online.
Most local Citizens Advice centres can arrange home visits and some provide email advice. Some are also piloting the use of text, web chat and webcams. Search for your local Citizens Advice to see the full range of services it provides.
FRU has been providing representation in social security and employment tribunals since 1972. It helps people who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford lawyers. Its work is carried out by volunteers, mostly law students and legal professionals in the early stages of their career. All FRU's representatives are trained and supervised by its legal officers.
In addition to our London office we work in partnership with Nottingham Law School.
FRU provides representation in employment tribunals (and the Employment Appeal Tribunal); Benefit appeals in the first-tier tribunal (and Upper Tribunal); Criminal injury compensation cases in the first-tier tribunal (and Upper Tribunal).
FRU can only assist you if you have a hearing date at a tribunal in London and the South East (or Nottingham) or if your case is referred by one of its referral agencies. FRU cannot take referrals directly from a member of the public.
LawWorks Clinics are free legal advice sessions which aim to provide initial advice and help you decide what action you need to take or whether you need to seek further help. The advisers are volunteers who give their time free of charge and they will not be able to take on your case. If you do need further help, the lawyers will refer you to agencies that specialise in dealing with your particular problem.
There are over 50 LawWorks Clinics nationwide providing advice on a variety of issues.
To find your nearest LawWorks Clinic, click here. For London clinics see here. Members of the public can find out about the LawWorks services available to them via the website www.lawworks.org.uk.
The Law Society is the regulatory and representative body for 116,000 solicitors in England and Wales. The Law Society can help you find a solicitor and advise on how to make complaints about solicitors. They do not provide legal advice, but you may find the help you want in their links section. Please also note that many law firms provide initial legal advice for free - just ask.
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. They provide up-to-date information, independent advice, high quality training and work with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance.
Every year over 800,000 people ring the free Acas helpline (08457 47 47 47) to ask about the latest employment regulations or something troubling them at work.
Please click on the link below to download contact details of various individual pro bono organisations which may be available to you. Most of these services provide free initial legal advice, but you will need to instruct a solicitor for advice and representation on an ongoing basis.
If you are representing yourself in court or at a tribunal (often called a Litigant in Person), or thinking of it, there may be free help and advice you can get at different stages of your case. Here we explain what each service can help you with and how you can access them.
The Personal Support Unit (PSU) helps litigants in person, their friends and families, witnesses, victims and inexperienced court users.
We provide trained volunteers who give free, independent assistance to people facing proceedings without legal representation in civil and family courts and tribunals. Our service is offered equally to everyone who asks and it is confidential, impartial and open to all.
Please note that the attached list of other pro bono advisory services is correct at the time of publication.