First Irish firms to appoint pro bono associates team up for Pro Bono Week
The first Irish law firms to appoint a dedicated pro bono associate are teaming up with the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) and TrustLaw for Ireland’s inaugural Pro Bono Week.
Eithne Lynch, pro bono associate at A&L Goodbody, and Carolann Minnock, pro bono associate at Arthur Cox, are taking part in an evening reception at A&L Goodbody’s headquarters this evening to mark the new initiative.
The Pro Bono Week initiative celebrates the many lawyers who share their expertise with those that cannot afford legal assistance and highlights the need for increased pro bono participation from within the profession.
Ms Lynch, who became Ireland’s first full-time pro bono associate last October, joins Ms Minnock, KIND president Wendy Young, PILA strategic development manager Rachel Power, and TrustLaw EMEA legal manager Sarah Farrelly for a panel discussion chaired by NUIG law lecturer and political commentator Larry Donnelly tonight.
The panel of speakers will analyse how pro bono legal work has addressed some of the prevailing gaps in access to justice, particularly in the areas of housing and homelessness, immigration and disability law.
Ms Young will discuss a pilot project which her US-based NGO KIND (Kids in Need of Defence) is currently establishing with the Irish Refugee Council and the Immigrant Council of Ireland to provide pro bono legal representation to unaccompanied minors seeking family reunification.
Julian Yarr, managing partner at A&L Goodbody, said: “We are immensely proud of our pro bono practice at A&L Goodbody. Our lawyers use their legal skills and knowledge to support civil society and, in turn individuals at the fringes of the justice system.
“Pro Bono Week is an opportunity to celebrate these achievements and to look forward on how we as a profession can work together to deliver even greater impact.”
The week is also being marked with a ‘Legal Health Check’ hosted by Arthur Cox, where charities and social enterprises will receive free legal training in key areas like data protection, employment, charity law and commercial contracts.
Geoff Moore, managing partner at Arthur Cox, said: “We believe as a firm that we have a professional responsibility to help people who might otherwise fall through the cracks of our legal system.
“Through our pro bono practice we address areas of unmet legal need by providing pro bono services to low income and vulnerable people and to the NGOs that support them. We are delighted to host the Legal Health Check Clinic and to celebrate Pro Bono Week Ireland with our pro bono partners.”
Ms Power of PILA said: “For 10 years, PILA has worked to drive the pro bono movement in Ireland, ensuring that both lawyers and NGOs have the skills, knowledge and networks to use the law as a tool in tackling critical social problems.
“This celebration comes at an exciting time, as more and more lawyers look to play a role in addressing unmet legal need. Pro bono is just one piece in the access to justice puzzle, but it is an important piece through which the legal profession can have tangible impact.”
Ms Farrelly of TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal programme, said: “TrustLaw has worked with legal teams globally for a decade, from small local firms in Kenya to international firms in the United States, to connect them with impactful organisations in their communities tackling key social and environmental issues.
“By working together with pro bono organisations, lawyers can ensure that their valuable time spent doing pro bono work can have the most impact on the ground. Pro bono connections have resulted in changes to legislation and have bolstered advocacy and legal reform efforts to strengthen the rights of marginalised communities globally.”
Ms Young of KIND said: “KIND is committed to serving kids across the globe, and we are thrilled to work with pro bono attorneys in Ireland to ensure every unaccompanied child has access to legal assistance in their efforts to reunify with their families. We look forward to harnessing our collective expertise to protect children as they seek a safer, more secure future.”