The Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) was delighted to launch the inaugural Pro Bono Pledge Ireland Impact Report 2022 on 24 November 2022. The report, which covers the first year of reporting for the Pro Bono Pledge Ireland, offers a unique insight into the variety of pro bono work undertaken by Irish volunteer lawyers across a number of very worthy initiatives.
The report provides a snapshot of the work being done by Irish volunteer lawyers to bridge the gap for those who cannot afford the legal services they require. It summarises the pro bono data reported by the Pledge signatories and highlights how Irish volunteer lawyers have collaborated with each other, and NGOs, in times of crises to provide legal assistance to those most in need at vulnerable times in their lives.
The report also includes case studies, highlighting the work done by the various law firms and individuals with the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC); the Irish Refugee Council and the Afghan community in Ireland; the Irish Red Cross; and with families of children with disabilities.
The report was launched during the fourth Pro Bono Week Ireland, an annual celebration that highlights and promotes pro bono culture as part of the EU-wide, European Pro Bono Week. Pro Bono Week celebrates the role played by volunteer lawyers in supporting civil society and human rights organisations and promoting access to justice for those in need.
First launched in November 2020, the Pro Bono 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 came 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), and is the first collaborative effort in Ireland to highlight the shared professional responsibility of lawyers to promote access to justice and to provide pro bono legal assistance to those in need.
Since its launch in 2020, the Pledge has secured the support of 74 law firms, 40 barristers, 2 in-house legal teams and 8 individual solicitors.
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.
Éilís Barry, CEO of FLAC said: “Pro bono is a vital part of the access to justice landscape. This report illustrates the particular role, capacity, flexibility and potential of pro bono work to meet at least some of the otherwise unmet legal needs of people and groups experiencing poverty and disadvantage, whose needs will never be met by traditional lawyering but require tailored targeted supports.”
Niamh Counihan, pro bono partner, Matheson said: “Matheson is very pleased as an active member and a founding signatory of Pro Bono pledge to support the inaugural launch of the Pro Bono pledge Ireland Impact Report 2022. We are proud to have collaborated with the wider legal community and NGOs on impactful pro bono projects which have provided free legal assistance to those in need and promote access to justice.”
Eithne Lynch, head of pro bono, A & L Goodbody commented: “As a founding signatory of Pro Bono pledge Ireland, A&L Goodbody is delighted to see the inaugural report being launched today. It is remarkable to read the incredible achievements of the legal profession under the pledge over the past 12 months. We’re proud to be part of this vibrant community.”
Fiona McNulty, Mason Hayes & Curran added: “Mason Hayes and Curran has a long tradition of pro bono work, and the firm is proud to be one of the founding signatories members of the Pro Bono pledge. The success of Pro Bono Week 2022 in Ireland is testament to the collaborative approach by lawyers and law firms involved in the Pro Bono pledge.”
Carolann Minnock, pro bono associate, Arthur Cox, said: “Arthur Cox is proud to be a founding signatory of pro bono pledge Ireland and to support the launch of the inaugural Pro Bono pledge Ireland Impact Report. Providing high-quality legal services to those without the means to pay has long been a part of the culture at Arthur Cox and part of our commitment to give back to the communities where we live and work.”