Arthur Cox - Pro Bono Statement
Arthur Cox introduced a new trainee rotation in their pro bono practice in August 2021 with the appointment of Kate Heffernan. Arthur Cox’s award-winning pro bono practice provides free legal advice to organisations and individuals who otherwise may not have access to the justice system. Providing high-quality legal services to those without the means to pay has long been a part of the firm’s culture and part of their commitment to give back to the communities where we live and work. In 2020, lawyers from across the firm provided approximately 10,000 hours of free legal advice, in areas such as human rights, immigration, charity and employment law. As a founding signatory of Pro Bono Pledge Ireland, Arthur Cox committed to a target of 20 pro bono hours per lawyer each year, a target that they surpassed this year when they achieved 26 pro bono hours per lawyer.
Kate’s description of life as a pro bono trainee:
I was very happy to take up the opportunity to complete a trainee rotation in the firm’s pro bono practice. I am involved in a wide array of pro bono cases and projects that touch on many interesting areas of law, such as housing law and refugee law. My week involves splitting my time between a number of these projects, as well as completing a one-day placement with Mercy Law Resource Centre each week.
Recently, I have been focused on pro bono cases involving individual refugee clients who are seeking to exercise their right to family reunification. My work on these cases involves meeting frequently with individual clients, researching points of immigration law and drafting legal submissions and letters for clients. This work also brings me into contact with our NGO partners at the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council, who are fantastic to work with, and who direct referrals towards the Arthur Cox pro bono practice.
Another pro bono project which I am enjoying working on is the FLAC Information Line project. Arthur Cox volunteers have been assisting FLAC in answering calls to its Information Line and in dealing with legal queries from members of the public. This work involves providing first-stop legal information to callers, who are often navigating difficult legal issues (be that in relation to housing, welfare, employment, family, immigration, court processes etc.). Volunteers work closely with a FLAC solicitor who kindly provides further direction on more complex queries. As pro bono trainee, I have had the chance to regularly volunteer on the Information Line. Collaborating with FLAC in this way has been a great experience and a brilliant learning opportunity.
I am lucky that I also get to spend one day a week working with the legal team at Mercy Law Resource Centre. My day there often involves assisting with legal research and drafting in relation to various housing law cases. I am also currently involved in co-ordinating a legal research project for MLRC, which involves a wider team of volunteer researchers at Arthur Cox.
The pro bono practice at Arthur Cox is a busy one and I am very glad to have the opportunity to spend my rotation working closely with the Pro Bono Associate, Carolann Minnock, many great people at our pro bono partner organisations, as well as lots of dedicated people across the firm who are very willing to give their best to the pro bono cases and projects they take on.
Anyone interested in finding out more about Pro Bono in Ireland, including a talk on establishing a pro bono practice within your firm, are invited to attend the Pro Bono Week Ireland 2021 events taking place between 22 and 26 November. See details here.