The Manchester Law Society published this notice two days ago:
Manchester Area Attack Pro Bono Panel
Following the terrible Manchester Arena attack last night Manchester Law Society are co-ordinating a pro bono advice rota.
We are looking for firms who are willing to give pro bono advice and free representation to bereaved families to assist with [the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority] (CICA) and Inquests.
We are also looking for firms willing to give pro bono advice to seriously injured people to assist with CICA claims.
Other areas that may require legal advice will include:
Administration of Estates
Death in service/pension
It is appreciated that there may come a time when a particular issue, for example a complex contested probate litigation, might need to be handled on a non pro bono basis and as such on a conditional fee agreement. However we do believe that in the early to medium term the approach of member firms should be totally pro bono.
As indicated above a priority area for early advice is likely to be compensation to which the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme may apply. This aspect is especially appropriate for pro bono help throughout. As you will appreciate, since costs are not paid by the scheme, it will be important for bereaved families and injured victims to receive 100% compensation.
If you are willing to act for clients referred to Manchester Law Society on the basis set out above please confirm by e-mailing, with your name, firm, FULL contact details and area of speciality to FranEccles-Bech@manchesterlawsociety.org.uk
This marks yet another instalment in a fine tradition. After the 9/11 disaster the Association of Trial Lawyers of America established a helpline for similar reasons. Four years later, following the 2005 London bombings, LawWorks, the solicitors’ pro bono charity, set up a helpline in collaboration with the Law Society within 48 hours. This London helpline distributed the work among the 40 firms of lawyers who offered to help. Its objects, as with the present Manchester initiative, were to ensure that sound legal advice was available free to everyone who needed it, and to prevent unregulated claims companies muscling in on a vulnerable market. The Bar Pro Bono Unit also provided specialist services on a referral basis.
One press report spoke of the help an injured Australian passenger in the Tavistock Square bus had received from a solicitor in one of the participating firms. She was helped to make a claim under the criminal injuries compensation scheme. She went home soon after the bombings, and from the other side of the world she expressed her gratitude for the way her claim was being processed completely free of charge. She said: “Daniel has been a lifeline”. The website at www.probonouk.net was of immense value in channelling the calls for help to those who were qualified and willing to provide it.
I will republish in a separate blog the lecture I gave during Pro Bono week in Nottingham ten years ago which sets all this as part of an even wider scene: a scene in which lawyers willingly give their services for no reward when the occasion warrants it – as the current emergency in Manchester undoubtedly does.