I started doing Pro Bono work when I was around 16 through my college. The first clinic I worked for was run by the Salvation Army, accepted walk-ins, and was staffed by a retired QC, a couple of barristers, one solicitor and a host of Middlesex Law students. My main responsibility was to assist with the interview service users, take notes and sit in for the advice sessions – from this experience I knew that I was interested in continuing with pro bono work. In my second year, an email from the university was circulated detailing a pro bono opportunity with Blackfriars Settlement—I applied and was accepted as a cover in the first term and a volunteer in the second. This clinic gave me the opportunity to actively triage clients and allowed me to become more responsible for the information collected and passed onto the solicitor. Around the end of my time with Blackfriars, I volunteered with Civil Day Clinic; this was a totally different experience from what I had done before. Civil Day gave me the opportunity to interview clients, conduct research on the legal issue presented as a part of a small team, and then inform the client of their options and rights in their matter. In the next few weeks, I hope to start volunteering at a small local housing law clinic.
My experience with pro bono work has been largely positive and I believe that, under the right circumstances, it can be fulfilling to help someone. You may occasionally find that due to the lack of resources, it can be a little trying at times as you can’t help everyone – so being able to separate yourself from the situation can work in you favour. From these experiences, I have learnt the importance of listening and understanding intricate circumstances, treating people with kindness, and have been able to work on and improve my professional communication. All of these skills that I have gained over the last 4 years have massively improved my applications for jobs and experiences.
Written by Ruqayyah, LLB student at The City Law School.