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Pro bono work: international perspectives and local solutions

On 8 November, the Law Centre’s Legal Support Project (LSP) hosted a conference on Pro Bono in Practice: International Perspectives at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University.

The conference was chaired by Mr Justice Stephens.

Delegates heard from leading international practitioners about their experiences of pro bono work in promoting human rights and access to justice, and from a panel of leading law firms about the business case for pro bono.

They also had the opportunity to participate in workshops and put forward ideas for the future development of pro bono work in Northern Ireland.

Pro bono experts

Dr Colin Gonsalves, founder of the Human Rights Law Network (India) and a senior advocate of the Supreme Court in India spoke about his involvement in a number of major human rights actions on behalf of large numbers of litigants. 

Balázs Sahin-Tóth, counsel with Allen & Overy (Budapest), shared his experience of acting for Roma students claiming damages arising from school segregation in Hungary.

Participants also heard from Siobhán Moloney of A&L Goodbody (Dublin) and Sophie Orr (Allen & Overy London) about their firms’ current pro bono programmes.

Workshop discussions

Martha de la Roche, from the Access to Justice Foundation, spoke about the Foundation’s work following the introduction of pro bono costs orders in England and Wales under the Legal Services Act 2007. The workshop explored options for extending the Foundation’s reach to Northern Ireland.

Marieanne McKeown, senior legal officer with PILnet: the Global Network for Public Interest Law, explained the role of pro bono clearing houses and highlighted potential opportunities for NGOs here to access legal expertise internationally.

Finally Gráinne McKeever, senior lecturer at the University of Ulster School of Law, led a workshop focusing on raising awareness of pro bono within legal education. 

Impact report

A report on the work of the Legal Support Project in its first year was launched at the conference.  LSP Impact Report 202-2013 is available here.

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