Improving access to justice
The legal industry has a greater responsibility to secure and sustain access to justice. We've re-energised our strategy and renewed our priorities in pro bono. People around the world have been through some of the most critical, life changing experiences of our generation. Access to justice and supporting people in our local communities has never been more important as the impact of existing acts of injustice increase post pandemic, and as a result of world events and conflict.
Pro bono Partner
Now is the time where increased focus and commitment to providing pro bono advice will make the biggest difference to closing the gap on legal access, at the most critical point to help change people's lives.
Pro bono Partner
Pro bono priorities
Being involved in pro bono work provides an opportunity to help those who need it gain access to justice. It's something we encourage everyone to do because it enables our lawyers to experience the impact the law has on people in our local community.
Our pro bono work supports our responsible business goals by focusing on projects aligned with the programme, with core objectives set across our business. We provide pro bono advice that promotes inclusion, the arts and sustainability.
At the start of the financial year we introduced changes to how pro bono work is recognised. These changes aimed to increase the size of our practice and number of lawyers involved.
Pro bono recognition
What changed this year
Pro bono target
Established 25-hour target for all lawyers.
Pre-requisite for all promotion candidate business cases.
Pro bono hours reported as a top-line item in management accounts and personal summaries.
Pro bono contributions identified and PALs informed.
Chargeable hours adjustments available, recognising contribution to larger pro bono matters.
Our pro bono track record
For the fourth year we've increased activity and active timekeepers.
- All of our lawyers are encouraged to make an active contribution and expected to record a minimum of 25 hours of pro bono per year.
- Monthly activity is tracked and shared firmwide on our Responsible Business Dashboard, our intranet and Teams channels, to ensure recognition is given to those completing this valuable work.
Pro bono hours and timekeepers
1. Increase activity levels
Deliver annual increase in hours recorded and lawyers involved.
2. Pro bono recognition
Agree and embed an approach to encourage lawyer participation.
3. Cultivate larger pro bono projects
More matters requiring a team and/or with potential to involve clients.
4. Develop the Blackfriars clinic
Improve systems, processes and relationship. Adapt for hybrid working.
2021-22 pro bono outcomes
2,925 last year
active time keepers
2 new clinics aligned to inclusion priorities
3 over 100 hours
4 over 50 hours
16 over 10 hours
The Windrush project
In 2017 it first came to light that hundreds of British citizens of Caribbean heritage had been wrongly detained and deported in what has become known as the Windrush scandal. Following the Windrush Lessons Learned Independent Review, our people established a legal advice clinic to support those who have suffered as a result of the scandal.
We initially established a clinic with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) in April 2021, collaborating with eight leading law firms. We wanted to do something about the consistently low numbers of applications for the UK Government's Windrush Compensation Scheme, which was further compounded by a lack of legal support in navigating the complex application process.
In January 2022, the Windrush Legal Initiative transferred from JCWI to Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU). Over the last year we have assisted 29 people with their claims.
Windrush scandal survivors
Windrush survivors were unlawfully detained, deported, and denied legal rights due to administrative errors caused by government immigration policy changes. The clinic has been supporting in preparing their Home Office applications, which includes organising witness statements and supporting letters from family members.
The Windrush project team continue to assist with compensation claims under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, supporting the complex application process and possible judicial reviews.
Working with Windrush survivors to help them obtain social justice has been for me an initiative of compelling importance and provided great fulfilment. Some of the survivors we represent arrived in the UK as young as 10 years old and are still suffering tremendously as a result of being unable to confirm their rights and entitlements to remain in the UK. I hope we can provide the support and legal assistance needed to help the many Windrush survivors that continue to suffer in silence.
Nicole Ng Yuen
Associate, Co-leader of the Windrush project
Being a descendant of the Windrush generation gives this project a special meaning to me. It has been beyond rewarding to assist individuals who for many years were unjustly ostracised by the system to try to seek some justice for their suffering. We hope that our participation in the clinic along with the seven other law firms will raise awareness of the availability of legal support and encourage more survivors to apply for compensation under the Home Office scheme.
Trainee Solicitor, Co-leader of the Windrush project
We are very proud of our pro bono work on this project. Pro bono is core to our values and we are delighted to be part of this vital work. The Windrush generation have contributed so much to our country and deserve our support dealing with the legal obstacles they face. It is such a cause to support.
Pro bono Partner
Our Blackfriars clinic
We've been providing free legal advice to members of the local community in Blackfriars for many years. Each week our volunteers advise on issues including housing, employment and contractual disputes. With several of London's legal advice clinics facing uncertain futures, it's never been more important for our people to make a meaningful difference.
After a short period of closure due to the pandemic, we enabled the clinic to reopen in January 2021 on a virtual basis with the support of students from the City Law School and have since returned to offering in-person support.
Pro bono is fundamental in ensuring everyone receives the legal advice and support they need, often at a time when they are most vulnerable, irrespective of their background or financial means. Blackfriars is so important, as it is our way of making sure as many people as possible in our local community receive this support.
Committee Member and Trainee Solicitor
The British Fashion Council
In 2021 we were invited by the British Fashion Council to become a patron in recognition of the pro bono support our Fashion and Luxury team has provided to their designer community for several years. As part of this support we’ve assisted with legal mentoring and advice to up-and-coming British designers selected for the BFC's Fashion Trust to help them navigate issues that typically arise as they expand into new regions across the world.
The Chancery Lane Project
With time running out to combat climate change, there's frustration that governments around the world aren't moving fast enough to create a top-down legislative environment that demands or even enables change. This leaves the responsibility resting with individuals and companies.
The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP) is dedicated to solving this issue. Aiming to combat climate change, it creates new, practical contractual clauses ready to incorporate into law firm precedents and commercial agreements to deliver climate solutions.
It then works with lawyers to ensure effective and impactful implementation of these clauses, empowering businesses.
Last autumn, we participated in the drafting of the Aatmay's Clause which was published by TCLP. Aatmay's Clause was the result of a fantastic collaborative effort with lawyers from across the industry and seeks to embed sustainability and the circular economy in leases, agreements for leases, and development agreements, encouraging the use of recycled and reclaimed materials, and reducing waste.
Claire Harman Clark
Senior Professional Support Lawyer, Real Estate