You can read part 1 of the blog here.
You can read part 2 of the blog here.
I hope that these blogs inspire other law students to volunteer in their local community and benefit from the rewards of supporting those most in need.
Offering pro bono services can aid the local community in many ways. This can include:
- Enabling people in poverty to have access to legal advice or alternative key service that they would not otherwise be able to access due to lack of finances;
- Preventing the most vulnerable from having their rights infringed;
- Improve the standard of service offered to clients. You may find that you can offer skills that other members of the team do not have. Particularly if you offer your services for a project with less legal influence. (Remember to provide your unique and more advanced skills, sensitively without behaving like a 'know it all'.Remember they will also have knowledge or skills that you do not possess!)
- Improves the reputation of the legal profession within the local community.
Conducting pro bono can also have benefits for the person donating their time and skills. This can include:
- Putting your academic skills into practice in a professional environment;
- Building confidence in communicating with real clients and colleagues;
- Opportunities to create new professional contacts with fellow volunteers and other professionals that you may be interacting with;
- Developing your commercial awareness;
- Provides you with a guilt-free escape from your studies;
- Opportunity to feel like you are making a difference;
- Understanding the effects of funding cuts to legal aid, Local Authorities, Community Projects, etc. It is not until you are working in an environment where you are faced with the consequences of funding cuts, that you can appreciate the adverse effect that these cuts are having on people most in need of support;
- Unlock new career opportunities including more advanced pro bono work and paid employment;
- Increase the different scholarships available to you. There are some scholarships and other awards specifically aimed at applicants who have made a positive change within their local community or the legal system etc. For example my previous dedication to volunteering enabled me to stand out when applying for the Rosie Keane Memorial Scholarship. Consequently, I was awarded this scholarship worth £5,000 off my BPTC tuition fees in 2014;
- Building new friendships and being an active part of your local community;
- Make a difference where it is most needed;
- Opportunities to participate in free training workshops;
- If you are a visual or practical learner, it may improve your understanding of a topic covered in your studies, depending on what role you decide to volunteer in.