The Law Society’s Pro Bono Week 2022: An Interview with BCLP

The Law Society, the UK’s independent professional body for solicitors, is hosting their 21st Pro Bono Week from 7 – 11 November 2022.

This annual event is an opportunity to recognise and support the voluntary contribution made by the UK’s legal profession to those in need.

Pro Bono Week offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the deep and longstanding commitment of the legal profession. The week is part of a global celebration of pro bono support that takes place every year.

LandAid’s Pro Bono programme matches the knowledge and professional services of organisations working in the property industry with not-for-profit organisations across the UK. This allows charitable organisations to provide life-changing support to disadvantaged young people, families, and communities, across the spectrum of those in need.

We are so grateful to all our partners who offer their expertise to charities and non-profit organisations through the programme. We receive many requests from charities in need of legal advice, on everything from purchasing land and property, to tenancy negotiations and disputes, to contract law and organisational mergers.

So, for this year’s Law Society Pro Bono Week we wanted to say an especially huge thank you to all the outstanding law firms and legal professionals who partner with us and volunteer their time and expertise to support worthy causes. One such firm, is Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), one of LandAid’s Foundation Partners who, in addition to supporting us with their generous financial contributions, have also provided many hours of free support to our charity partners.

BCLP is a prominent international law firm, with over 1,200 respected lawyers across 30 offices in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Asia. They count 40% of the Fortune 500 among their clients and have been named a leader in law firm innovation four times in the last decade.

Led by Alison Klarfeld, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Justine Oldale, Real Estate Pro Bono Liaison Partner, BCLPs pro bono activity has grown significantly, thanks to their passion and dedication to supporting good causes. LandAid also has strong links to the firm through Justine and Alison’s colleague Claire Milton, herself a Partner in Real Estate at BCLP, as well as a Trustee for LandAid and the Chair of our Grants and Impact Committee.

Between them, Justine, Alison and Claire, together with their many generous and hard-working colleagues, have been responsible for the firm donating significant numbers of pro bono hours to support LandAid’s charity partners with a wide range of real estate based legal issues.

We asked them to tell us more about BCLP’s contribution to the programme and why pro bono work is so important to them and their firm:

Why is it so important for corporate firms to offer pro bono support?

“For BCLP, making a difference to our communities and society is one of our core values.‚ÄØ As a global law firm, pro bono is at the very heart of how we do this.‚ÄØ So, few people and organisations have access to the type of high-quality legal services that our firm provides, but there are so many people and charitable entities who really need those services. It is only right that we do our part when and where we can.”

What impact does pro bono support have on the charities and their beneficiaries?‚ÄØ

“Having access to good quality pro bono support can make a world of difference.‚ÄØ It will ensure that the charities are fully informed of their legal rights and obligations and have access to experts who can represent the charity’s best interest and level the playing field if the other party involved has legal representation.‚ÄØ Not having to pay for advice also means that the charity can spend what it would otherwise have had to pay in professional fees on its charitable purposes, helping the people they support.”

What is the impact/benefit for the firm and your people? ‚ÄØ

“Having an active and extensive pro bono programme is a real selling point in helping us to attract and retain good people who share our firm’s values.‚ÄØ It is also something that we are regularly asked about by our firm’s corporate clients.‚ÄØ We have a wide range of pro bono projects and some of the benefits for our people who get involved include: having a chance to develop skills such as interviewing, negotiating and drafting;‚ÄØ getting to work with colleagues who they would not get to work with in their day job; getting great hands-on experience; having an opportunity to make a tangible difference and to give something back in a very impactful way, which can be extremely rewarding.‚ÄØ To quote a colleague: ‘It is both very fulfilling and highly effective to apply my corporate skills and experience to a non-profit organisation.’

Why does BCLP support the LandAid Pro Bono Programme in particular?‚ÄØ

“As a Foundation Partner, we work with LandAid in a variety of ways.‚ÄØ As we have a pre-eminent Real Estate practice, it is only right that we should do what we can to support LandAid’s Pro Bono Programme to use our legal skills and expertise to help those charities supported by LandAid, which in turn helps the young people those charities support.”

What is the secret to a successful pro bono relationship between charities and corporate partners providing professional services?‚ÄØ

“Good communication is critical to manage expectations on both sides.‚ÄØIt is important to be clear from the outset about what the organisation can or cannot help with in order to manage expectations. Good communication goes a long way towards mitigating challenges.”

How can corporate firms better embed a culture of pro bono?

“Buy-in from senior management is essential so that the messaging comes from the top.‚ÄØ A clear pro bono policy and criteria for taking on pro bono matters is important, making it clear that pro bono work should be treated in the same way as fee paying work.‚ÄØ Charities are generally very good at providing (hopefully positive!) feedback at the conclusion of a piece of work, and it can be really helpful for corporate firms to share this internally, to give recognition to the people who carried out the work and encourage others to get involved in pro bono work.”

Would you recommend the LandAid Pro Bono Programme to other charities or companies?

“Yes, it provides a great opportunity to give something back in a very tangible way and the benefit of the work done for the charities trickles down to the service users, so it is a very impactful way of making a difference to young people experiencing homelessness.”

Thank you once again to everyone who offers their advice and expertise as part of the LandAid Pro Bono Programme. Your support has a huge impact on the beneficiaries of under-resourced charitable organisations who are providing life-changing support to disadvantaged young people, families and communities.

The need for skilled services and committed pro bono partners is greater than ever before, as charities face ever-increasing social challenges and funding shortages. LandAid receives high volumes of charity requests, and we need the industry’s help to match them.

Through joining the Pro Bono programme and using your professional skills to support these vital organisations, you can make a meaningful difference and, enable them to create greater social value.

Find out how to donate your time and expertise here.

For further information please email Gareth Pettit, Pro Bono Manager: