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Pro bono at the crossroads

Few stakeholders have come out in favour of making pro bono mandatory for all lawyers, but there is growing interest in two models

8 November 2013

Demand for pro bono services is booming. This would be good news if pro bono was a privatised industry sector relying on clients with the means to pay for services. As it happens, the recession and the legal aid cuts are posing the greatest challenges yet to the sector.

Toynbee Hall, which celebrated the 115th anniversary of its free legal advice centre last week, expects the number of clients to reach 4,000 this year. The hall is bracing itself for a 12.5 per cent rise to 4,500 in 2014. LawWorks' latest annual survey does not include a specific forecast but they too expect demand - and supply - to grow in the next three years as the cuts start to bite.

Funding for pro bono services has traditionally come from three main sources: law firms, legal aid contracts, and local authority grants. The Access to Justice Foundation, which collects sums awarded under pro bono costs orders, has started providing a further income stream. But like lottery fundi...

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