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Why I do Pro Bono - Emma Danforth
South West London Law Centres coordinate the single largest pro bono advice clinic service in the UK, running up to sixteen free advice clinics across South West London each week.
Last year the clinics provided free advice to 4477 people.
One of our volunteers Emma Danforth, Senior Associate at Allen & Overy, tells us about her pro bono work.
Where have you volunteered?
I have volunteered at Battersea Legal Advice Centre (part of South West London Law Centres) and Toynbee Legal Advice Centre and am regularly involved with various legal and non-legal pro bono projects through my employer, Allen & Overy LLP. I’m also trustee of a charity, Colalife, that I initially became involved with through a piece of pro bono work.
Why did you decide to take on pro bono commitments?
I feel strongly that those who are not able to pay for legal advice should still be able to get the legal support they need and those that have been fortunate should do what they can to help others less fortunate. I also find the work, and people I meet through it, very interesting – I genuinely look forward to and enjoy all of my pro bono commitments.
What is the greatest benefit of pro bono work?
While my career provides a great sense of achievement and satisfaction, the pro bono work I do is in many ways far more rewarding. While sadly not every client can be helped, there are few things more gratifying than seeing those clients you have been able to help leave Battersea Legal Advice Clinic less worried and far happier simply as a result of donating a couple of hours of your time.
How has it helped your career?
I really notice the benefits to my day-to-day work from having to apply my legal skills to areas of law outside my expertise. When I was more junior and had less interaction with clients, this was a great opportunity to interact with clients on-to-one and improve my client skills.
What is the most memorable case you have worked on?
The most memorable case probably was the gentleman who came in and started his request for advice with ‘I met my gang in Hyde Park ahead of our planned fight with another gang’…that was an interesting story to say the least! The most moving experience was when a previous client of Battersea Legal Advice Clinic arrived at the centre one evening and handed over his entire first week’s wages as a donation to say thank you for the support he’d been given in resolving his immigration case so that he could settle in the UK and find a job.
If you would like to volunteer at a SWLLC pro bono clinic find out more on our website. Volunteer advisers will typically offer advice on housing, employment, small claims, crime, consumer matters, family law, litigation, immigration and personal injury. To volunteer, you must be either a qualified solicitor with a current practising certificate or a practising barrister and you must have experience in the area of law that you wish to advise on. If you are interested, send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall contact you.
To help this vital service continue please donate by texting SWLC01 £5/£10/£20 to 70070