A pro bono scheme for ‘non-lawyers’ in the legal sector has been set up to encourage law firms to provide volunteering opportunities to their non-fee-earning staff.

Fifth Day says there are currently 30,000 professionals working in areas such as IT, finance and HR in the top 100 UK law firms. The non-profit organisation has teamed up with Reach Volunteering, a skills-based volunteering charity, to connect business professionals with projects and trustee roles.

Fred Banning

Banning wants firms to provide volunteering opportunities to non-fee-earners

Fifth Day, which launched this week, was founded by Fred Banning, former head of communications at multinational firm Pinsent Masons.

Banning said: ‘I was effectively forced by circumstances to finish work in 2020 after a terminal cancer diagnosis. One of my great regrets was that, while I derived a huge amount of satisfaction from my career, I wished I had done more to use my skills and experience to benefit others. In speaking to friends and colleagues from several professional services firms, it seems clear to me that I’m not alone in this.

‘The legal profession has a proud tradition of pro bono among fee-earning communities', Banning said. ‘There is a recognition that pro bono enriches the lives of lawyers and the culture of many law firms. I’d love to see that same ethos permeate business operations teams.’

As well as asking individuals to consider pro bono opportunities, Banning wants law firms to sign up to Fifth Day’s corporate membership programme. ‘There are no fees involved, instead we’re asking law firms to make a commitment to promote and give equivalence to pro bono opportunities among their non-fee-earning communities,’ he said.

Banning is being assisted by an advisory board comprising Jeremy Ford, senior BD and marketing leader an international firm Skadden, David Halliwell, a partner at Pinsent Masons, Nicola Sawford, portfolio non-executive director and former chief executive of Serle Court chambers, and Moira Slape, chief people officer at corporate firm Travers Smith.