19 January 2018

BSB Handbook Explained: Are you considering doing pro bono work?

You should be aware of the rules around pro bono work and what you are permitted to do.

Self-employed barristers may provide pro bono legal services through a Legal Advice Centre, as provided for in rules rS41-42. Self-employed barristers who are Public Access registered can provide pro bono legal services directly to members of the public, if they comply with the Public Access requirements at rC119-rC131 of the BSB Handbook.

All employed barristers are able to provide legal services directly to members of the public where the legal services are provided free of charge.

You need to ensure that either your personal insurance or the insurance of the body you are providing services through covers you for thepro bonoservices you are providing.

You should note that if you are not authorised to conduct litigation you cannot do this in your pro bono work. This could have practical implications for clients who will be required to do this work themselves or find other free or affordable assistance.

Giving advice on legal matters free to a friend or relative or acting as unpaid or honorary legal adviser to a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, are not considered to be "legal services" and so anyone can undertake these activities.