Pro Bono Community

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Pro Bono Community is a new charity. We have developed a tiered training programme for law students and trainees, consisting of progressively more challenging stages, to prepare them for volunteering in Law Centres and other advice agencies.

Legal education charity Pro Bono Community (PBC) went live in the autumn of 2014 with a training course aimed at making law students, trainees and lawyers more effective volunteers in Law Centres and advice agencies. 

The charity was set up by lawyers David Dowling and Oliver Hyams whose mixed experiences volunteering led them to identify a need for a structured training programme that provides Law Centres and other advice agencies with volunteers who possess the knowledge and skills to help them without needing excessive support and supervision.

The course provides students with an introduction to advice work with an emphasis on interpersonal and practical skills. The course looks at the background to Law Centres, client care, triaging techniques and recent welfare reforms before focussing on a range of welfare benefits law topics.

The charity is developing a portfolio of training programmes with other courses oriented towards housing, employment, family, debt and consumer law. Content, format, scheduling and duration are all flexible, enabling PBC to tailor courses to clients’ requirements.

Following a successful pilot programme, PBC has already delivered training courses for cohorts from law firms Simmons & Simmons and Shearman & Sterling with other programmes lined up for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills and Olswang. Simmons & Simmons have indicated that they would like to run a second training programme for their senior lawyers and partners and a variety of other firms are looking at consolidating their pro bono work with training from PBC.

Pro Bono Community coordinates volunteering placements at Law Centres and advice agencies in conjunction with the training, and attendees receive the Pro Bono Training Certificate when they successfully complete the course. The charity – which currently only operates within the Greater London area – is keen to add new Law Centres and advice agencies to its network of partners and any organisations who would like to know more about either the training or volunteering placements should contact PBC’s director Bill Skirrow on 020 7092 3957 or by emailing

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