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Pro Bono: A Perspective From Ireland

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

  • Organization: Public Interest Law Alliance
  • Source: National

Pro Bono Net is partnering with Martindale-Hubbell Connected to promote pro bono.  Below is the latest in a series of guest blog posts on Pro Bono Net's Connected group, contributed by Jo Kenny of the Dublin-based Public Interest Law Alliance.  Join Connected to read the rest of the series and to join the online conversation.

We are a public interest law project in Dublin, Ireland called “PILA” (the “Public Interest Law Alliance”). We are lucky enough to be part of a 41 year old human rights organisation called FLAC (the “Free Legal Advice Centres”). See FLAC’s website on: www.flac.ie!

FLAC campaigns primarily in the areas of debt, legal aid and social welfare. FLAC also takes important strategic cases such as a recent High Court case on transgender rights. One of our objectives is to develop sustainable ways of matching legal expertise with legal need in the community. To that end we are starting to develop initiatives to engage lawyers in pro bono. Irish solicitors and barristers have a long history of providing legal assistance pro bono. We are keen to establish a structured referral system to link solicitors’ firms with non-governmental organisations and law centres, ultimately benefitting the communities they serve!

We were fortunate to have both Mark O’Brien of Pro Bono Net and Ed Rekosh of the Public Interest Law Institute visiting Dublin a couple of weeks ago. Mark and Ed attended a breakfast seminar which an Irish commercial law firm Philip Lee generously hosted and which various Irish commercial law firms attended. Mark and Ed provided invaluable perspectives on making pro bono work for law firms and the organisations they might partner with.

Two Irish non-governmental organisations (Focus and Crosscare), who work with the homeless and with migrants among others, were also represented. They gave useful insights as to how they thought pro bono could usefully advance the work they do.

For our part, we have followed up contacts made at the breakfast seminar. We intend to engage firms as a means of providing lawyers with pro bono opportunities and harnessing their legal expertise for the benefit of groups who need assistance most.We will be launching our website shortly on www.pila.ie, but in the meantime - we will keep you posted!

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