Brand new Law Society award for Excellence in Pro Bono – enter now:
Entries are now open for a brand new category recognising Excellence in Pro Bono as part of the legal profession’s flagship awards ceremony.
The awards recognise the very best in innovation and practice across the whole legal profession, offering a chance to acknowledge the exceptional work of individuals, while also applauding the collective achievements of teams and legal practices.
Whether your pro bono work is for clients in your local community or NGOs through a global partnership - from law shops to test cases, clinics to training - we are looking for examples of innovation and best practice. Whoever your client and whatever the vehicle, show us how your freely given legal expertise has promoted the public interest and developed your business and people.
Information for the Public
The difference between public funding and pro bono"Pro bono" is the term for free legal help for someone who cannot afford to pay for legal assistance and is not entitled to legal aid. It comes from the Latin "pro bono publico" which means "for the public good".
Individuals may be able to obtain legal aid to help with any legal costs. Whether you can or cannot depends on many things including your financial circumstances such as how much you earn and what savings you have, and the type of legal help you are looking for.
In most cases, the best first step is to visit an advice agency such as a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or Law Centre or a local solicitor. You can find one near you by searching on the Law Society's Find a Solicitor online database or visiting the Community Legal Advice website. You can also call the Community Legal Advice helpline on 0845 345 4 345.
Getting pro bono legal assistance: What to do if you need legal assistance,
cannot afford to pay for it and cannot obtain public funding.
Where to go first?
In most cases, the best first step is to visit a local advice agency such as a law centre, a Citizens Advice Bureau or another independent advice agency, or a local solicitor.
Some agencies will have legal clinics, in which volunteer lawyers help to provide free advice to clients. Some will operate telephone support lines. Some may even be able to help provide initial advice online. In many cases the advice that you receive will be all you need, but some cases need assistance that is more in-depth.
In Depth Assistance
Following the initial assessment, the agency or solicitor may be able to provide the additional help that you need or take on your case. If they cannot help you directly, they may be able to refer you another source of help.
Can you get public funding (legal aid)?
Advice agencies and solicitors will be able to advise you whether you are able to get public funding, but you may also like to check yourself using the online legal aid eligibility calculator. If you are entitled to legal aid, you will not be eligible for pro bono help.
And what if you cannot get public funding (legal aid)?
If you are not eligible for legal aid funding, the advice agency or solicitor can refer you to an organisation that works with pro bono lawyers who may be able to help with your case. Some of these organisations are housed at the National Pro Bono Centre.
What else can you do?
Visit the information page of this site which provides links to information and sources of help in a range of legal areas that might give you the answer you need. However, the law can be complicated and one small change in circumstances might lead to a different result. Use the links to get information so that you are better informed before you visit an advice agency or solicitor. The better the information you can give them, the more likely they are to be able to help you.