There are many opportunities to get involved with pro bono and several reasons why it is a good idea to do so. Verity discusses the pro bono opportunities she has been involved in and how they have strengthened her ability as a trainee solicitor.
During my time studying for both the GDL and LPC I volunteered with my university’s pro bono employment law advice line, first as a call assistant and then as student director.
The experience I gained in these roles helped prepare me for life as a trainee solicitor in several ways.
Firstly, my experience gave me a great insight into the kind of work a solicitor does and the way in which they give advice. My role as a call assistant meant that I had to take a note of the client’s issue and then pass this on to the advising solicitor. This role also involved maintaining a database of clients, which meant that I was able to see how the different matters progressed and how the solicitor responded to the different issues raised by clients. This not only developed my employment law knowledge but also allowed me to see the ‘soft skills’ solicitors use to communicate information to clients in an accessible way.
Further, many of the tasks I carried out gave me good practice for the kind of work I have had to do on my training contract. For example, I had to use a variety of questioning techniques in order to gather the relevant information from clients, and then take accurate attendance notes of these conversations to pass onto the advising solicitors. Going into my training contract with this kind of experience already behind me has been beneficial, as I have been able to carry out the same kind of tasks with confidence.
Shoosmiths offer a wide variety of pro bono opportunities, from running projects with charities such as citizens advice , to giving public legal education presentations in local schools on topics such as employment rights, to projects which offer asylum seekers and refugees access to legal advice. As a trainee in the Manchester office, I (along with my fellow trainees) have been volunteering with a local family law clinic. It has been so valuable in allowing us a level of client exposure which can sometimes be difficult to find as a first-year trainee, and enabling us to see first-hand how advising solicitors interact with and assist clients in what can be emotional and time-pressured situations. In addition to this, by having the opportunity to put the ‘Shoosmiths way’ into practice outside of the workplace, it has strengthened our alignment to the Shoosmiths culture.
For more advice on balancing corporate responsibility and pro bono have a read of Amy’s blog.
If you have any questions you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.