23 October 2018

Throw us a bone as legal charity changes name

Lawyers should work for free to help access to justice, says the new UK justice secretary

'Pro bono week' in the UK kicks off with a name change as charity loses 'legal Latin' to appear more accessible.

The 17th global Pro Bono Week has begun with the bar's pro bono charity announcing a name change to make it more accessible to those who need free legal help. The Bar Pro Bono Unit, based in London's Chancery Lane, is now called Advocate.

Losing the Latin

Under the new name Advocate, the charity says it is adopting a new strapline and logo, making it easier for the public to understand what the charity does while putting the Bar at the heart of their work. Volunteer barristers have provided free legal help to nearly 10,000 people since the charity was set up in 1996, and a quarter of members of the bar are pre-registered to conduct cases for free. Jess Campbell, Advocate chief executive, explained legal Latin was not ‘user-friendly for most of the people coming to us for help.’ A survey revealed less than 40 per cent of applicants understood the words ‘Bar Pro Bono Unit.’ The charity states, ‘this rebrand gives us a platform to better publicise the pro bono work of the Bar, and shows the pro bono charity of the Bar to be fit for purpose, modern and accessible to all.’ Ms Campbell, added ‘our research showed that the new name made people feel that ‘someone will speak up for them’.

Desperate need

Pro Bono Week coincides with global celebrations to mark pro bono efforts across a dozen countries. Events are also planned next week to discuss wider justice issues as part of the first Justice Week, which has been spearheaded by the Law Society, Bar Council and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. Bar Council chair Andrew Walker QC said, ‘the bar's pro bono work makes a huge contribution to access to justice. It is vital that this work, and the bar's own organisation for facilitating it, is as accessible and visible as it can be to those who need it most. That aim is at the heart of this rebranding. The bar will remain at the heart of Advocate's work, and I hope that this and other developments in how Advocate operates will help to bring together yet more barristers and those who desperately need their services but cannot afford to pay.'