Our CEO Melissa Davis looks at why pro bono work is an essential part of your firm’s business strategy.
UK Pro Bono Week 2023 is coming to an end, with many firms shining a light on the voluntary work they do in the legal profession. But why would you want to?
The wider benefits of pro bono
While the media may not wish to publicise a firm’s efforts in giving back to the community, there are wide ranging benefits, not just for the direct recipient.
Recruitment and retention: today’s law graduates increasingly wish to work somewhere that offers them purpose. Pro bono work allows them to broaden their professional capabilities while giving back. For existing staff, pro bono promotes positivity and can increase job satisfaction and retention rates.
A better fit for clients: having pro bono commitments as part of the firm’s core ethos greatly enhances your reputation to clients, especially today’s generation of socially conscious corporates increasing their efforts towards ethical governance. By highlighting these values, you will attract clients who share your ethos.
Upskilling: having an outside interest serves as a great booster to lawyers’ professional legal skills and, more pervasively, their personal strengths from which the firm will benefit in the long run. Junior lawyers, in particular, will benefit through more client contact or responsibility than they are used to when doing pro bono work.
Being able to publicise your pro bono work on your website and social channels is an excellent way to boost your employer brand, especially if your staff also post about it and engage with the firm’s posts. This will increase your attractiveness in the market to potential employees and clients alike.
Part of our DNA
Pro bono has been a key part of our DNA at MD Communications since we first opened the doors. We enjoy working with organisations such as the International Bar Association and the InterLaw Diversity Forum who operate within a sector we deeply know and promote.
Most recently, this year we became PR partners for In/Fertility in the City, the only podcast for city professionals facing fertility issues. The podcast features city professionals who have navigated their own fertility challenges while working.
We work with the International Bar Association on its global 50/50 by 2030 gender project, which aims to achieve true gender parity in the legal sector. I also helped shape the recently released IBA D&I toolkit as part of my role with the IBA European Regional Forum and its diversity campaign. The toolkit, a practical and inspirational instrument for all law firms, was launched at the IBA Paris annual conference recently.
On a more personal level, I devote my time to helping raise awareness of autism and neurodiversity, including setting up a neurodiversity campaign for the legal sector, as my daughter Jessica suffers from severe autism, and I want the world she grows up in to be a truly inclusive place.
The importance of shared values
LinkedIn research revealed that 71% of professionals would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that has a mission they believe in and shares their values. Pro bono can give your employees’ the opportunity to develop their own personal brands, as they define what they want to be known for and use this to authentically make connections across the sector.
And it’s not just lawyers who can get involved – as we think about the evolution of law firms, the wider teams of business development, marketing, HR and IT also have people who are keen to share their insights and skills with those who can benefit. It’s a great way of bringing people together on joint pro bono projects from across the business, strengthening employee engagement internally.
So take the chance to celebrate the breadth and impact of pro bono work undertaken by the legal profession across the year – how are you getting involved?