Pro bono relationships can be mutually beneficial.

Legal pro bono: a win-win

9 June 2015

A partnership between a leading law firm and an INGO is a mutually beneficial relationship. While the INGO benefits from access to free legal advice which can prove impactful on programmatic and policy work, as well as saving on core costs, the work provides lawyers with the opportunity to give practical advice on complex, intellectually challenging, domestic and international projects.

Undertaking such work develops a lawyer’s skills that can be deployed in day-to-day fee-earning work across a wide range of disciplines. Furthermore, the advice given enables INGOs to give practical assistance to those in need of support, which in turn results in increased engagement and job satisfaction for those supporting the work.

Over the years Christian Aid has benefited hugely from pro bono support or gifts in kind. We have worked with a number of leading international law firms who support our country programmes on issues ranging from international tax law and research, advice on bribery, corruption, and women’s rights, to counsel on the application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which help strengthen Christian Aid’s human rights advocacy initiatives. We have also been able to deepen our relationships with law firms, receiving funding from their charitable committees in order to support our work further.  

Three ways for an INGO to develop pro bono relationships:

  • Look at what connections you already have in law firms - how many of your major donors work at city firms? How might these relationships be nurtured?
  • Trust Law Connect is the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono service that connects NGOs and social enterprises with the best law firms around the world. With over 1,500 members in 150 countries, their mission is to spread the practice of pro bono worldwide to drive social change.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach law firms cold, most will have the details of the person who is in charge of dealing with pro bono on their website. If it’s an interesting project it’s more than likely that they will want to help.

For further advice on funding and related resources visit the funding pages on the Bond wesbite.

About the author

Charlotte Davis
Christian Aid

Corporate Partnership Manager at Christian Aid, Charlotte has also worked for CAF and Business in the Community. She has an MSc in Development Management.