29 November 2022
Attorney General Paul Gallagher SC last week launched a series of events celebrating the role played by volunteer lawyers in supporting civil society and human rights organisations and promoting access to justice for those in need.
Pro Bono Week Ireland 2022, which ran from 21-25 November, is part of the EU-wide European Pro Bono Week. A number events sought to highlight the culture, the work and most importantly the necessity of pro bono practice.
The events were coordinated by a committee comprising PILA (The Public Interest Law Alliance), a project of FLAC, A&L Goodbody LLP, Arthur Cox LLP, Mason Hayes & Curran LLP, Matheson LLP, McCann Fitzgerald LLP and Deloitte Ireland LLP.
The online EU-wide launch of Pro Bono Week took place at 1pm on Monday 21 November, followed by the official launch of Pro Bono Week Ireland hosted by Deloitte LLP, where attendees were joined by industry leaders for a panel discussion around pro bono. The panel was moderated by David Fennelly, Chairperson of FLAC and included Sara Phelan SC as Chair of The Bar of Ireland, Áine Hynes SC representing the Law Society of Ireland, Richard King, Project Leader for the Migrant Project at Crosscare and Sinead Gogan of Deloitte LLP.
Paul Gallagher SC said: “Engaging in pro bono work is an opportunity for a lawyer to exhibit commitment to justice and the public interest, benefiting those in society who need it most.
“But it also enables lawyers an opportunity to develop their legal knowledge and skills and other essential expertise in delivering legal advice such as accessible communication and dedication.”
Shamika Dwarika, PILA’s pro bono development manager, said: “At the core of pro bono work is the understanding that there are those vulnerable and marginalised members of our communities that lack the resources to access legal assistance when they need it. The law profession therefore has a unique role to play in supporting their communities.
“Monday’s event, ‘Shaping the Pro Bono Landscape in Ireland’ seeks to bring together industry leaders to look at both, the successes, as well as the challenges facing the various role players in the pro bono arena and how we go forward and ensure that pro bono continues to develop and thrive.”
Eilis Barry, chief executive of FLAC, added: “Pro bono work is an important tool in identifying the extent of unmet legal need among disadvantaged groups and individuals and seeking to ensure that these needs are met.
“While pro bono work can never be a substitute for a comprehensive legal aid system — which is currently under review — pro bono work demonstrates the unique and vital role that the legal profession can play in trying to redress the significant imbalance in our legal system.”