More junior lawyers are doing pro bono work than ever before, according to Law Society research published to coincide with National Pro Bono Week.
In 2013, 45% of all newly qualified solicitors are providing pro bono services, up from 36% in 2012. This year, an equal proportion of newly qualified and partner-level solicitors are providing pro bono services.
Overall, 44% of practising certificate holders did pro bono work in the past 12 months. The average number of pro bono hours worked by PC holders was 45 hours, a slight fall on the 47 hours reported in 2012.
There was also a slight increase in the number of in-house solicitors providing pro bono work, but they still do less than private practitioners.
The pro bono work of private practice solicitors was valued at £488m in 2012, representing 2.1% of total turnover generated by solicitor firms. However, this was down from £511m (2.6%) the previous year.
This is a concern at a time when, as attorney general Dominic Grieve acknowledged at a Law Society Pro Bono Question Time debate, civil legal aid cuts have boosted demand for free advice. Chancery Lane attributed the fall to fewer hours per solicitor, the fall in the number of private practitioners and the increase in junior solicitors with lower charge rates.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said: ‘Pro bono is hugely important to ensure access to justice for the most vulnerable of people. It is extremely positive that more solicitors are dedicating time towards this work.
‘It is really encouraging to see the newest members of our profession undertaking pro bono work and it bodes well for the future of this vital service.’