Bar survey – barristers set leading example in CSR and commit to further pro bono funding

27 Feb, 2013

A survey conducted by the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has found that close to half the profession (42.4%), across all practice areas, regularly carry out voluntary legal pro bono work, in addition to paid work. It also found that 36.6% of the Bar regularly volunteer for non-legal charitable organisations.


These findings show that despite the economic pressures many sections of the Bar are currently facing, the role that barristers play in society has enormous value, and is both socially responsible and publicly useful.


Key findings of the survey include:


  • 42.4% of respondents regularly carry out voluntary legal pro bono work in their local community
  • Over a third of respondents dedicate time to working for charitable organisations
  • Almost a quarter of respondents were found to devote more than one working day per fortnight to voluntary work, and almost a third give up more than one working day per month, and
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents believe that barristers have a responsibility to lend their skills and knowledge to those who cannot pay for them.

The Bar Council also confirmed, as announced by Immediate Past Chairman, Michael Todd QC, last year, that as part of the Practising Certificate Renewal process, it has asked every practising barrister to make a £30 opt-out donation to support the work of the Bar Pro Bono Unit, in an effort to secure the vital charity’s long term financial sustainability.


Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:


“The Bar has long demonstrated a strong sense of commitment and duty towards legal pro bono work, but the findings of this survey show an astounding level of dedication at the Bar to those in society who need legal advice and representation, and to ensuring access to justice.


“The private comments which respondents provided reflect the pressure which many barristers are under, but despite those pressures, they still place an enormous value on acting in a socially responsible and publicly useful manner.


“It must be unheard of for 42% of a predominantly self-employed profession regularly to give away its primary services, free of charge, to those most in need.


“The Government should take these findings into account when looking at further cuts to fees at the publicly funded Bar. This survey explicitly demonstrates the contribution the Bar makes to the taxpayer and to society.”

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