Pro bono means ‘for the public good’. It is often used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.
It is more than just free legal work; it is an essential service that provides professional skills to those in need but who are often unable to afford or access them.
Law students can use their knowledge and training to provide pro bono legal services to help members of the community whilst enhancing their skills and experience.
Why get involved?
Being part of the Pro Bono Network at Manchester Law School is your opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to real legal situations, to gain valuable experience and to make a real difference to yourself and others.
What can you do?
The Pro Bono Network is involved in pro bono projects offering a wide range of legal work, covering civil and criminal areas, commercial law and international law and we are working on new projects all the time.
You could be working on a legal advice line; assisting start-up businesses in our Business Law Cafe; supporting caseworkers for the homeless; representing clients at tribunals; or even working on death row cases in America.
The Pro Bono Network offers a range of options for involvement to match your skills, interests and availability whilst supporting the community.
Here are some of the schemes you could get involved with:
Amicus is a charity that helps provide representation for those facing the death penalty in the United States. It has a dedicated internship programme sending law graduates annually to work in the US. Amicus also allows students to work on casework, trial summarising and research from the UK and encourages the formation of student groups dedicated to fundraising and increasing awareness.
Business Law Cafe
Manchester Law School’s first commercial law clinic, the Business Law Café, is where students and commercial lawyers from national law firms work together to provide much needed free legal support to start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. The Business Law Café provides advice and information in general commercial areas, corporate law, intellectual property, property law and non-contentious employment law.
Watch the Business Law Café in action…
Citizens Advice Bureau (Manchester)
Providing free advice and information, and campaigns for positive change in a wide-range of areas including welfare benefits, housing, debt and employment. Volunteer roles include front-line assessors on an advice line, digital coaches or involvement in research and campaigns.
Legal Advocacy Support Project (with Greater Manchester Law Centre)
In partnership with the Greater Manchester Law Centre, the innovative Legal Advocacy Support Project gives Manchester Law School students a unique opportunity to represent clients at tribunal. Students have the chance to work with clients on their benefits appeals cases from the start, preparing cases and advising, through to representing them at tribunal.
The Greater Manchester Law Centre aims to provide free legal advice and representation to the residents of Greater Manchester. Work focuses on the needs of clients who for multiple reasons of exclusion cannot access legal help.
National Justice Museum
The NJM develops and delivers law and justice educational programmes to support and raise aspirations about the legal system and consequences of crime with young people in schools and colleges. This includes mock legal hearings at Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre and Crown Court where volunteering students assist with proceedings and answer questions about what it is like to work in the legal system or study law.
Partners of Prisoners (POPS)
POPS provides support to families of offenders by operating a range of projects throughout the North-West of England. Student volunteers support those affected by the criminal justice process, whether directly or indirectly, and help promote the role of the family in assisting an offender’s rehabilitation and desistance. There are a wide variety of opportunities available to suit a diverse range of skills and interests including face-to-face support, research initiatives or providing information and advice over the phone.
Personal Support Unit
Based in the Manchester Civil and Family Justice Centre, the PSU is a national charity for people facing court alone. They provide a much needed service of practical and emotional support for litigants-in-person, and students gain valuable experience of assisting people with real cases and empowering them to manage their own case more effectively.
A campaigning organisation dedicated to combatting homelessness and assisting with housing related problems. It provides student volunteers with training to enable them to provide assistance and administrative support to Shelter caseworkers and solicitors in relation their work on housing, debt, welfare benefits and community care matters.
Slater & Gordon
One of the UK's largest law firms providing legal expertise in a wide range of personal legal services including family law, personal injury, wills and probate and employment law, also run a legal advice line.
The firm offers Manchester Law School students the opportunity to support their free trade union advice line, assisting legal advisers in a demanding but rewarding research role. Students undertake legal research on real client files and see the outcomes of that research being fed back to the client.
Pro Bono Community Volunteer Training Scheme
In partnership with the Pro Bono Community charity and the Greater Manchester Law Centre, Manchester Law School students receive specialist training aimed at equipping law students, trainees and junior lawyers with the skills and expertise to work as volunteers in Law Centres and advice agencies. Students then take up a six-month volunteering work placement in a busy law centre in Manchester.
How can I get involved?
Involvement in the Pro Bono Network is by application to the Pro Bono Team.