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AUG 2011
LAW SOCIETY

Pro-bono project takes foothold in India

"In the UK, we have seen firms develop the way they undertake pro bono work from individual lawyers making ad hoc contributions to a coordinated and strategic practice. Our endeavour is to assist Indian law firms in institutionalising pro bono practice in the same way to enable every lawyer to participate in projects for the public good. iProbono has already made great progress in India, and has successfully matched projects posted by Indian NGOs with leading law firms."

Shireen Irani

Founder and Executive Director, iProbono

Former UK attorney general Lord Goldsmith has moderated a roundtable for eleven of India’s leading law firms to discuss how to develop a pro bono culture.

The roundtable, the first of its kind in India, was co-hosted by UK-based iProbono, a non-profit organisation that connects lawyers and law students with pro bono projects, and the Ashoka Foundation, an India-based body that supports social entrepreneurs.

Each firm took away a draft pro bono policy to work on in conjunction with iProbono.

Goldsmith said: ‘I believe lawyers have a professional duty to undertake pro bono work. You cannot believe in the legal system without recognising the need for the law to be accessible to everyone.

‘But we’re not just thinking about the human rights and public interest law advocates; we’re thinking about the transactional commercial lawyers at law firms as well. Every lawyer can play a part in changing society.’

City firm Field Fisher Waterhouse solicitor Shireen Irani, founder and executive director of iProbono, said: ‘In the UK, we have seen firms develop the way they undertake pro bono work from individual lawyers making ad hoc contributions to a coordinated and strategic practice.

‘Our endeavour is to assist Indian law firms in institutionalising pro bono practice in the same way to enable every lawyer to participate in projects for the public good. iProbono has already made great progress in India, and has successfully matched projects posted by Indian NGOs with leading law firms.’

Field Fisher Waterhouse managing partner Moira Gilmour said: ‘Since it was launched in 2010 with the support of Field Fisher Waterhouse, iProbono has matched over 140 lawyers and law students with suitable pro bono projects.

‘I am pleased to see the initiative is now making an impact at an international level and that iProbono is beginning to enable lawyers in India to get more involved in pro bono activity.’

This article is taken from Law Society Gazette.