The 17th global Pro Bono Week has begun today with the bar's pro bono charity announcing a name change to make it more accessible to those who need free legal help. The Bar Pro Bono Unit, based in London's Chancery Lane, is now called Advocate.
Volunteer barristers have been providing free legal help to nearly 10,000 people since the charity was set up in 1996. Currently, a quarter of members of the bar are pre-registered to conduct cases for free.
In today's announcement, Advocate says it will adopt a 'streamlined logo suggesting the idea of a seesaw' to symbolise 'the balance and fairness that Advocate, through its volunteer barristers, contributes to justice'.
By the end of the year applicants will also be able to access the service through an online portal.
Jess Campbell, Advocate chief executive, said: 'This rebrand will help make Advocate more accessible for those in need of legal assistance while celebrating the vital contribution volunteer barristers make to access to justice. Our previous name - which used legal Latin – was not user-friendly for most of the people coming to us for help.
'Our research showed that the new name made people feel that "someone will speak up for them". Barristers said it made it clear that it is their profession which provides free specialist legal advice, drafting and representation to the most vulnerable in our society. That has always been the charity’s ethos and it will only be strengthened with our new brand and name
Bar Council chair Andrew Walker QC: 'The bar's pro bono work makes a huge contribution to access to justice. It is vital that this work - and the bar's own organisation for facilitating it - is as accessible and visible as it can be to those who need it most. That aim is at the heart of this rebranding. The bar will remain at the heart of Advocate's work, and I hope that this and other developments in how Advocate operates will help to bring together yet more barristers and those who desperately need their services but cannot afford to pay.'
Pro Bono Week coincides with global celebrations to mark pro bono efforts across a dozen countries. Events are also planned next week to discuss wider justice issues as part of the first Justice Week, which has been spearheaded by the Law Society, Bar Council and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.