The provision of free legal services by lawyers and law firms to those who cannot otherwise afford legal representation and to organisations that support such individuals has been a long-standing feature of the Irish legal landscape. And that activity has been increasing, according to Niamh Counihan, Matheson’s pro bono partner and director of legal and regulatory affairs.
“In recent years Irish lawyers have doubled down on their efforts to volunteer their time and legal and business skills to support unmet legal needs in their communities and respond to global humanitarian issues,” she says.
“Pro bono is gathering momentum in Ireland with many lawyers and law firms increasing their personal and firm commitment to deliver free legal assistance to those who are unable to pay for or access legal help,” she adds. “A number of law firms have marked their investment in and support of pro bono by appointing dedicated lawyers with responsibility for further developing their firms’ pro bono practices. These practices share the same resources as commercial practices, and pro bono work is treated in the same way as commercial work.”
She points out that a large number Irish law firms, barristers, in-house legal counsel and individual solicitors have committed to promoting access to justice and providing free legal assistance to those in need by signing the Pro Bono Pledge Ireland. The number now stands at 100 signatories representing more than 2,500 lawyers.