The Signatories of the UK Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono (the “Plan”) share a collective belief that pro bono is a professional responsibility for all lawyers. They have developed the Plan in order to improve pro bono service delivery in the UK. The Signatories believe that by working together they can more effectively promote access to justice.
The Plan meets on a regular basis and is managed by a central secretariat made up of selected pro bono professionals of Signatory law firms.
The Participants are committed to ensuring that a proportion of their pro bono work is directed toward promoting access to justice for low-income individuals and will:
- Support legal aid and promote the importance of a properly funded legal aid system.
- Continue to support legal advice clinics and seek to develop end-to-end representation in appropriate circumstances, particularly in areas of legal need across the UK.
- Establish and maintain Task Forces focusing on areas of legal need to assess the need for pro bono intervention and to share information between Signatories working on similar issues.
- Create opportunities for all Signatories to participate in pro bono projects and establish collaborative legal clinics focussing on end to end casework assisting low income individuals.
- Share and develop materials and resources to facilitate provision of high quality legal advice.
- Help to build supervisory capacity of external agencies to develop end to end casework for individuals.
- Share data to facilitate advocating for strategic policy changes in areas of legal need.
- Improve systems and processes for working more closely with barristers on pro bono matters.
- Set up a ‘trusted referral network’ to pass matters to other Signatories (e.g. if one Signatory cannot act due to a conflict).
The Signatories agree to establish an aspirational target of 25 hours of pro bono work, per fee earner, per year, averaged across the Signatory’s UK offices (the “Target”) and will:
- Promote the Target as an appropriate minimum commitment for lawyers in the UK and as recognition of best practice.
- Collaborate to achieve the Target, without creating a culture of ‘punishment’ or ‘shaming’ for non-compliance, or precluding law firms who have not yet achieved the Target from becoming Signatories.
- Review the Target every two years to ensure it remains appropriate with regard to pro bono performance, as published in the annual Plan infographic (see below).
- Recognise that Signatories will achieve the Target within different timescales and that some Signatories may set higher internal pro bono hours targets.
- Acknowledge the importance of strong lawyer participation rates in pro bono, in addition to hours targets.
The Signatories hold a belief that information sharing among them will lead to improved pro bono performance and will:
- Complete an annual questionnaire detailing their pro bono performance.
- Collaborate with TrustLaw to compare pro bono performance in an anonymous manner, and share this information among themselves.
- Use the information collected to prepare an annual public infographic, demonstrating the Plan’s collective performance.
- Provide new Signatories with an appropriate grace period before requiring that they complete the annual questionnaire.
The Signatories recognise the importance of professionalising pro bono management and will:
- Promote the Plan as a professional initiative which facilitates the sharing of ideas, experiences and learning in relation to pro bono.
- Consider responding collectively to sector-wide issues.
- Organise regular professional training opportunities, such as UKademy.
- Maintain the Collaborative Plan Mentoring Programme.
- Collect and share data regarding pro bono roles on a confidential and anonymous basis.
The Signatories recognise the need to collaborate with the broadest possible group of law firms in order to achieve the objectives of the Plan and will:
- Allow any law firm, irrespective of size, to become a Signatory, provided that law firm commits to the initiatives listed in the Plan.
- Encourage law firms with UK wide presence to become Signatories.
- Meet with contacts at other law firms on a face to face basis, promote the Plan through the relevant networks and encourage other law firms
to become Signatories.
- Enable all new Signatories to have input into the Plan and keep the Plan under review.
- Maintain a list of official Signatories.