UK business leaders commit to support pro bono legal cases

Today, legal leaders from across the UK economy have signed the UK In House Pro Bono Pledge as a demonstration of their organisations’ overall commitment to pro bono which will support corporate responsibility and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.

Created by the In House Pro Bono Group in collaboration with the National Pro Bono Centre and GC100, the Pledge asks General Counsels and Heads of Legal to commit to encourage 25% of their UK-based lawyers to undertake pro bono work over the next 12 months, rising to 35% next year and 50% the following year.

Importantly for law firms and barristers’ chambers that wish to be engaged by these organisations, signatories have also committed to ask their external providers of legal services to disclose details of their own pro bono activities and be clear about their support for pro bono.

Pro Bono means legal advice or representation provided by lawyers including to individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford to pay for that advice or representation and where public and alternative means of funding are not available. The demand for legal advice from such groups has never been greater, with the cost-of-living crisis biting and creating serious financial hardship for many.

The UK In House Pro Bono Pledge states:
“We recognise the importance and value of legal pro bono work to individuals, employees, our company and most importantly, to wider society. It forms part of the contribution we make as an employer, demonstrating our commitment to be a responsible and caring contributor to society. Our legal team commits to the UK In House Pro Bono Pledge and will fulfil its key undertakings. We hugely look forward to using our skills to improve access to justice for all and to play our part in making a better world.”

. The first ten group of In House Pro Bono Pledge signatory companies are:
Airtel Africa plc
Coca-Cola Europacific Partners plc
GSK plc
ITV plc
London Stock Exchange Group plc
Ocado Group plc
Taylor Wimpey plc
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
United Utilities PLC
Whitbread PLC

Commenting on today’s announcement, the Lady Chief Justice, Lady Carr, said:
“Lawyers working in-house in companies nationwide are an integral part of our legal profession. I warmly welcome the new In House Pro Bono Pledge. In-house lawyers can make a valuable contribution to access to justice and I congratulate the companies who have signed this pledge already.”

Chair of the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Committee, Solicitor General Robert Courts KC MP, said:
“Pro bono work benefits both those who receive it and the lawyers that selflessly donate their time to deliver it. The In House Pro Bono Pledge is a fantastic initiative, enabling Britain’s biggest businesses to show corporate and social leadership by committing their legal teams to volunteer their time and skills to people who need it most, whatever their circumstances. I thank the companies that have signed the Pledge so far and look forward to hearing who follows them.”