Pro bono: why giving back is good for you

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Our CEO Melissa Davis explains why pro bono is a vital part of our business and outlines the work we do to support important campaigns and charities.

As we head towards Christmas our thoughts turn to giving back. It’s part of our business strategy as well as our purpose that we give back as much as we can to our sector and beyond. It’s part of our DNA and we’ve got considerable experience to share. And crucially, our team wants to do their bit to help causes and people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to senior level advice and expertise.

It’s important to remind ourselves of the substantive arguments behind pro bono work in the first place, which include enhancing your reputation – clients want to work with those who are seen to have a more ethical governance, and work/life balance – having an outside interest serves as a great booster to professional skills.

Diversity campaigns

We are proud to be part of two fantastic global diversity campaigns. Firstly, the “50-50 by 2030” campaign from the International Bar Association, which aims to achieve gender parity at senior levels of private practice, in-house positions, the public sector and the judiciary. We have worked closely with the IBA’s Legal Director Sara Carnegie on this and will continue this support in 2023. Secondly, we support the InterLaw Diversity Forum, which is working to foster inclusion for all diverse, socially mobile, and underrepresented talent working in the legal sector – aiming to level the playing field to enable people from all backgrounds to have successful legal careers. We are also working with the IBA Global Mental Wellbeing Taskforce to improve the mental wellbeing of the legal sector across the world.

Children and families

Other pro bono projects have taken us outside the legal sector, with a focus on supporting children and families. We launched the Parents Promise to promote more positive parenting for children when relationships break down, with MD Communications Partner James Hayhurst as founder. We support Only Mums & Dads in ensuring more information is available to help those families during separation or divorce. Watch out for the Parents Promise HR initiative launching in January to lobby for better HR policies to enable better support for separating parents in the workplace.

And sometimes, it’s just good to help organisations with a connection a little closer to home, including SEND Kids, which is a cause close to my heart as my daughter has special needs. We support Reverse Rett and Skylarks and last year you might remember our Christmas video with comedian Sally Phillips. We also support lawyers on the front line in Ukraine and will always be thankful for our Polish friends who completed a brave rescue attempt to bring a young woman and her baby to Poland to escape the war.

Neurodiversity campaign

Looking ahead to 2023, we will be launching a campaign next year to improve the acceptance and understanding of neurodiversity in the legal sector. This is an area which traditionally has been somewhat neglected, and we want to raise awareness of how important it is to have neurodiverse employees, and the skills they bring that their neurotypical colleagues may not possess.

Pro bono for non-lawyers

We can’t talk about pro bono without mentioning Fred Banning, a superlative individual who set up Fifth Day to promote the contribution of business services teams in law firms to pro bono work.

Fifth Day encourages non lawyers working in the legal sector to do pro bono. As the profession modernises, anything between 30 and 60 percent of colleagues work in areas other than legal work – IT, HR, Marketing, Business Development, Operations, Finance, and more. These individuals can bring a huge amount of talent, skills, and energy when thinking about giving back.


‘Purpose’ is sometimes an over-used phrase these days but when it comes to something like pro bono, it really does go to the heart of what our organisation is and what it wants to be.

Who doesn’t want the chance to do some good and make a difference every so often? Indeed, if people don’t want to do that, do you really want to work with them anyway?

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