Pro Bono Legal Services in Africa – Get Involved

Pro bono legal work is both an important way of providing vital legal services to people in real need and an excellent way to gain legal experience.

Why should you care about pro bono work? What does this term ‘pro bono’ even mean? It really is much more than just a CV booster and I’m going to tell you why.

Pro bono is shortened from the Latin term “pro bono publico”, meaning “for the public good.” It involves lawyers and law students giving up their time on a voluntary basis for people who need legal assistance, but aren’t in a position to get the necessary support.

Pro bono projects differ greatly in what they offer to both the volunteer and those who benefit from it. There’s something available for everyone wishing to get involved; you could even set up your own pro bono group!

How pro bono benefits you

The personal benefits of pro bono work are both extensive and varied. Group involvement tests and strengthens your teamwork skills, and you also develop your leadership skills if you get involved with the organisation and co-ordination of projects.

Interacting with people from different sectors of society helps you to develop greater personal confidence and other necessary and useful skills, such as negotiation, advocacy and public speaking.

On another level, involvement with pro bono work can prove a welcome change from academic work, while remaining a worthwhile way to use your spare time.

Career benefits…

The wide range of skills you may develop and perfect can really benefit you in your future career. In the current economic climate, with competition for training contracts and pupillage keener than ever, this kind of involvement can give you an edge over other candidates.

There are many people in need of legal assistance and the capacity to pay for legal help increasingly limited.

Pro bono involvement is a great way to ‘showcase’ your expertise in the area of law that you wish to pursue, while providing a useful service to the people that really need it.

If you can choose the specific pro bono project become involved with, then you should base your decision on the area of law you are most interested in.

These extra skills can improve your chances of securing a training contract or pupillage.

If you have demonstrated your commitment and interest in the law by becoming involved with pro bono, (especially if it is relevant to your choice of firm or chamber) then this will shine through in an interview.