Pro-bono work and the ILBF

Boxes of books on their way to one of over 100 not-for-profit organisations that the ILBF has sent books to over the past 10 years.

Boxes of books on their way to one of over 100 not-for-profit organisations that the ILBF has sent books to over the past 10 years.

In the 10 years that the ILBF has been sending books to overseas recipients, more than 25,000 books have been received by more than 100 not-for-profit organisations.  “[For] many universities, law courts and pro bono groups across the globe… there is no well-established local legal publisher, nor the funds to buy books”.

The ILBF is run by a team of volunteers, comprising the ILBF Patrons, Trustees and Operating Committee, who are committed to advancing the rule of law and access to justice through the provision of legal research resources. The volunteers give their time on a pro-bono basis and the importance of this work to the various committee members and trustees has been reiterated in the series of interviews that we have carried out recently.

This week, National Pro-Bono week, we have been thinking about the importance of pro-bono work. Organised by a committee and sponsored by the Law Society, The Bar Council, and CILEx,”National Pro Bono Week is an annual week to recognise the contribution lawyers make, free-of-charge, to many people and organisations in acute need. It supports and promotes the pro bono legal work which is carried out by solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives throughout the year and provides thought leadership on pro bono topics through a series of events run across England and Wales throughout the week.”

What part does pro bono play for a successful lawyer?

Carmen Pombo is Past Chair and co-founder of the IBA Young Lawyers’ Committee and after a  10-year practice as an IP lawyer now manages the Fundación Fernando Pombo in Spain. Carmen gave a unique insight into the role of pro bono at an IBA World Café round table pro-bono event about what is means to be a successful lawyer chaired by Katrina Crossley, one of the ILBF trustees, in 2012.

One early comment on Carmen’s table was ‘I thought we were in a session on success’? As the discussion on her table progressed, it became clear as lawyers from around the world described the value to them as practitioners of taking on pro bono work, that pro bono can be an invaluable driver for success – the chance to acquire new skills and experience real life problem solving. Not to mention the chance to develop expertise in unexpected areas which not only enhance a lawyer’s personal skill base but also the reputation of the firm they work for.

No more is this highlighted than the example of the 2012 IBA Young Lawyer of the Year who is Kimathi Kuenyehia Sr from Ghana; some of the young entrepreneurs he has supported through his pro bono work have, as successful business people, returned to him as clients. But ultimately, the value of pro bono comes from the contribution it makes to a lawyer’s sense of balance – the opportunity to achieve a level of personal satisfaction and authenticity which goes to the heart of the profession of lawyer.

How can you get involved with the ILBF?

There are various ways that we need your help:

  • If you’d like to give some time assisting pro-bono with the ILBF please contact us to find out how we might best be able to use your volunteering time and skills.
  • We need funding to help us carry out our work
  • Books: If you have good quality and relevant legal texts to donate we’d love to hear from you.
  • If you either are, or know of organisations who need texts, we need recipients, so please apply.
  • Feedback: If you have received books, share your stories with us.