This week A&L Goodbody (ALG) is taking part in European Pro Bono Week. Celebrated across 15 European countries, including Ireland, it is an opportunity to highlight the enormous contribution pro bono can play in response to global crises.
The week also marks the launch of the Pro Bono Pledge Ireland by Minister for Law Reform, James Brown – a new initiative which asks the legal profession to commit to promoting access to justice by providing free legal advice to those in need. 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 through annual reporting of anonymous pro bono data.
Commenting on the launch, ALG Managing Partner, Julian Yarr, said: "For more than a decade, we have built a strong pro bono practice that uses our skills and experience to support civil society. Our aim is to deliver pro bono legal services to people in need, in areas such as housing, asylum and family reunification for unaccompanied minors. As a sustaining partner of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) our vision for pro bono culture in Ireland has always been ambitious. This ambition has led us to be a founding signatory of the Pro Bono Pledge and we look forward to collaborating with colleagues across the profession to realise the goals set by the Pledge."
While in many ways 2020 has been a challenging year, our lawyers' commitment and contribution to the pro bono practice remains steadfast. ALG Solicitor Mairead O'Brien shares what pro bono work means to her: "Pro bono work has allowed me to see first-hand the impact our skills have on some of the most vulnerable people in society. Sometimes the smallest piece of advice can have a huge impact on another person's life. Pro bono work has also brought home to me the systemic prejudices that can exist and how it important it is for us a firm to put our principles into practice in trying to change this culture".