Pro bono is a fundamental part of A&L Goodbody (ALG). ALG believe it can make the most impact by using our legal skills to respond to unmet legal need in our community. Access to justice informs the strategic partnerships we have developed and the organisations ALG work with. The importance ALG places on providing these legal services is demonstrated by its goal of having all lawyers in the firm perform 25 hours of pro bono work each year.
ALG's collaboration with the Irish Refugee Council (IRC)
In early 2013, ALG embarked on a collaborative project, the first of its kind, with the Irish Refugee's Independent Law Centre to provide a unique pro bono service for people claiming refugee status in Ireland. With no civil legal aid available at this stage of the process, and capacity constraints within the law centre, ALG can leverage its size and capacity to greatly increase access to legal services. ALG lawyers assist with the drafting of the personal statement and legal submission and country of origin research on behalf of each client. The work is time intensive but in many instances is life changing.
To date, ALG have advised in relation to 87 applications for asylum (39 family reunifications and one case for a refugee seeking to avoid revocation).
Housing Rights and Homelessness – Focus Ireland and Mercy Law Resource Centre
One of Ireland's biggest and most pressing social issue is access to affordable and sustainable housing. Civil legal aid is severely restricted for individuals or families experiencing homelessness. Partnered with Mercy Law Resource Centre and Focus Ireland our lawyers attend an out-reach clinic every Wednesday afternoon to support individuals and families experiencing homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The clinic is staffed by two solicitors (supported by a trainee) who each take up to four appointments of 30 minutes duration. In many instances the cases are complex and therefore the attendee becomes a client of the firm and end-to-end case work is provided. 370 consultations have been facilitated through the clinic, with active casework on 262 files.
Supporting Survivors of Torture – Spirasi
Partnered with Spirasi, the centre of care for survivors of torture, our lawyers undertake legal reviews of medical legal reports. The medical reports are prepared by doctors working with Spirasi by way of assessment to identify the infliction of torture. The reports are submitted as part of a persons' application for international protection. In 2018 a working group of ALG solicitors received specialist legal training from decision makers, doctors and lawyers with expertise in the use of the Istanbul Protocol. The Istanbul Protocol is the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences. Four medical legal reports are reviewed each week by members of the working group, with over 100 reports reviewed as part of this partnership to date.Feedback from our partnerships demonstrates how the legal analysis has improved the quality and consistency of the reports which form part of the decision making process for international protection.
Pro bono partnerships – Social Entrepreneurs Ireland PILA (the Public Interest Law Alliance)
PILA is a public interest law network that seeks to engage the legal community and civil society in using the law to advance social change. Since 2015 A&L Goodbody has been a sustaining partner of PILA. In addition to providing pro bono legal advice to the PILA network of NGOs, we alongside other law firms have supported the wider work of PILA to promote pro bono culture in Ireland.
Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) supports high-potential social entrepreneurs to tackle Ireland's social problems. Since 2012 A&L Goodbody has worked with SEI to identify the next generation of social entrepreneurs and through our pro bono legal services assisting those bringing new ideas to market and growing in scale.
Introducing our new trainee rotation in pro bono
A&L Goodbody is introducing a new trainee rotation in its pro bono practice. The rotation, starting in April 2020, will be the first of its kind in Ireland. Our new pro bono trainees will work closely with charities, not-for-profit organisations and pro bono partners in managing and providing this service. The rotation will help them to develop skills in client care, project management and most importantly legal research, drafting and advocacy.
Find out more about our trainee and intern programmes.