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 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 provides law students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to real legal situations, to gain valuable experience and make a real difference to themselves and others.
How to get involved?
Involvement is by application to the Pro Bono Network Team at Manchester Law School.
The Pro Bono Network is involved in pro bono projects offering a wide range of legal work across all legal areas and we are working on new projects with local, national and international pro bono partners all the time.
The Pro Bono Network offers a range of options for involvement to match differing skills, interests and availability whilst supporting the community.
Law students 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.
Here are some of the partners we work 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 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.
Crown Prosecution Service
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. It is important that they continue to improve what they do and how they do it in order to build public confidence in the criminal justice system and improve the quality of their casework. One of the ways they do this is through Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panels (LSIPs) which have been operating throughout most CPS areas for a number of years.
Law Students at Manchester Law School have the exclusive opportunity to apply to a new pilot Youth Scrutiny Involvement Panel. Student undergo training with the CPS, then will sit on the panel and be invited to scrutinise completed case files. Work experience placements with the CPS are extremely rare, and this is offered as a new alternative.
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.
Young Citizens helps young people become active, engaged and motivated citizens, who are able to contribute positively to their communities – whether those communities are local, national or global. They believe that helping young people play a full part in their communities, can help strengthen democratic society. Their work ranges from immersive learning projects where young people learn about the legal justice system to empowering children to take action on social issues they care about most.
There will be three workshops held at Manchester Metropolitan University this year, where younger students from the local Manchester community from ages 13 to 18 will take part in a range of immersive activities and Law Students will be involved either as facilitators or speakers.
For full details of each project and what you need to apply, see the Pro Bono Network brochure here [Please Note: Only accessible through Manchester Met Moodle]
How can I get involved?
Involvement in the Pro Bono Network is by application to the Pro Bono Team.