26 November 2020
Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne – on behalf of Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee – today launched ‘Pro Bono Pledge Ireland’ – a new initiative which asks the legal profession to commit to promoting access to justice by providing free legal assistance to those in need.
The Pledge is being supported by the Bar of Ireland, The Law Society of Ireland and the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association. The Chair of the Bar of Ireland, Maura McNally SC, and the President of The Law Society of Ireland, James Cahill, will also speak at the event.
The Pledge was developed by an independent grouping of law firms, barristers and in-house legal teams with a presence in the Republic of Ireland who have come together to affirm their commitment to delivering pro bono services in Ireland. The Pledge is coordinated by PILA (the Public Interest Law Alliance, a project of FLAC).
The Pledge provides a common definition of pro bono legal work, a commitment to a minimum aspirational target of 20 pro bono hours per lawyer per year and a mechanism to benchmark progress through annual reporting of anonymous pro bono data.
At the time of launch, the Pledge has over 70 Founding Signatories, representing more then 2000 solicitors and barristers.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said “Pro Bono Pledge Ireland represents an excellent model for pro bono delivery in Ireland. It recognises the voluntary contribution members of the legal profession make in pledging their time and skills for the benefit of people who need them. It serves to enhance access to justice while also promoting a culture of volunteerism and corporate social responsibility. I congratulate FLAC, PILA and all Pledge partners on this important and valuable initiative.”
FLAC Chairperson, Peter Ward SC said, “Pro Bono Pledge Ireland is the first collaborative effort in Ireland to articulate the shared professional responsibility of lawyers to promote access to justice through pro bono legal work. It recognises the substantial and growing level of pro bono contribution by the legal profession towards meeting unmet legal need. This need, of course, is now even more pressing due to the pandemic, where the FLAC phone line has been inundated with very stressed callers seeking urgent legal advice and PILA has seen a 50% increase in demand for pro bono legal services from NGO partners.”
He added that “while this pro bono pledge can never be a substitute for a properly funded system of legal aid, it is a vital and very welcome strategy which will increase access to justice for vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups.”
Chair of The Bar of Ireland, Maura McNally SC, said, “Law Library members have a long tradition of providing assistance and advice, both to individuals and organisations, on a pro bono basis. The opportunity now to have this important work recognised by Pro Bono Pledge Ireland is a welcome step, and will greatly assist in the understanding of how the profession contributes to the wider wellbeing of the community.
Our association with FLAC, PILA, other similar free legal centres and indeed our own Voluntary Assistance Scheme, all represent examples of the Bar, working together to share its skills with those most in need.”
President of The Law Society of Ireland, James Cahill, said, “The undertaking of legal work for people with legal needs but no capacity to pay is part of the DNA of the legal profession in Ireland.
In supporting this voluntary initiative, we recognise the huge amount of unpaid work already done by solicitors and affirm our commitment to developing that tradition into the future in collaboration with PILA, FLAC and our colleagues at the Bar.
The Law Society is proud to support the work of FLAC and the Community Law Centres through annual contributions from members and, now Pro Bono Pledge Ireland.”
The Pledge is being launched during Pro Bono Week Ireland, an annual celebration that highlights and promotes pro bono culture.
To join the Pledge visit www.probonopledge.ie.
Founding Signatories include:
Barristers: Aoife McMahon BL, Arran Dowling-Hussey BL, Ben Clarke BL, Cathy Smith BL, Christoper Mills BL, Cliodhna Boland BL, Colm Scott Byrne BL, Eithne R O'Doherty BL, Grainne Quinn BL, Hazel Fannon BL, James Kane BL, Johnnie McCoy BL, Karl Quinn BL, Lauren Tennyson BL, Lewis Mooney BL, Maebh Fenton BL, Michael Kinsley BL, Norma Judge BL, Patrick McCann SC, Roisin Cottrell BL, Ronan Lupton BL, Siobhan Phelan SC and William Martin-Smith BL.
Law firms: A&L Goodbody, Abbey Law, Arthur Cox, Augustus Cullen Law, Beauchamps, Clarkhill, Colgan Solicitors, Comyn Kelleher Tobin, DAC Beachcroft, Daly Lynch Crowe Morris, Dechert, Dentons, Dillon-Leetch & Co, DLA Piper, Dunne Law, Eamonn Conlon SC, Eugene F Collins, Eversheds Sutherland, KOD Lyons, Lavelle Partners, Leman Solicitors, Lewis Silken, Maguire Muldoon, Mason Hayes & Curran, Matheson, McCann Fitzgerald, McGrath McGrane, Michael Staines Solicitors, O'Flynn Exhams Solicitors, O'Mahoney Solicitors, O'Sullivan Kenny, Philip Lee, PJ O'Driscoll & Sons, Richard Grogan & Associates Solicitors, Rogers Law, Ronan Daly Jermyn, Shalom Binchy & Co Solicitors, Sherwin O'Riordan Solicitors, Simmons & Simmons, SMD Solicitors, SOM Law, St John Solicitors, Tully Rinckey, Walkers Ireland, Woulfe Murphy Solicitors.
Individual Solicitors: John Costello, Leonora B Doyle and Maoilíosa Henry.
In-house Legal Teams: Ronan Group Real Estate and National Broadband Ireland.
Click here for a recording of the event.
Click here a video of some of the faces and organisations involved in the process of bringing the Pledge together.