To celebrate Global Pro Bono Week, Fusion will be posting a series of blogs from fee earners from various offices around international about their pro bono matters and experience.
This week we hear from Bethan Lloyd, Associate, IPT, London.
When I was making the decision about where I should undertake my training contract, the firm's commitment to pro bono was probably the major factor in my choosing DLA. I had been working in Legal Aid and was a volunteer employment law adviser with the Free Representation Unit at the time, and I wanted to find the balance between committing to the world of corporate law, while remaining involved in community legal needs. DLA Piper stood out from its competitors as the only firm that seemed genuinely committed to the promises made about pro bono work in its promotional materials, and over my time with the firm this has proved a reality.
In terms of my pro bono experiences, I really hit the ground running on day one of my training contract, assisting with the creation of a sub-participation agreement for Barnardo’s, and volunteering to help a small charity with reviewing (and, as was inevitable, re-drafting) a software licence and website hosting agreement. Since DLA partnered with UNICEF, I have been engaged in a number of interesting projects outside my day-to-day expertise, including negotiating a contract between the charity and the Mayor of London's office for sponsorship of the New Year's Eve fireworks (disclaimer: I take no responsibility whatsoever for the quality of this year's event!)
Having conducted several legislative reviews in countries such as South Africa and Brazil with a focus on topics including social work provisions and non-custodial alternatives for juvenile offenders, I have really had my eyes opened to how hard life can be for children and teenagers growing up in other parts of the world. I know this is clichéd, but it is both humbling and shocking to witness the conditions experienced by children, and the lack of legal protection available for young people. It is therefore particularly rewarding to feel like we are making a real difference through supporting UNICEF.
For the cynics, it’s not all about the warm and fuzzy feeling that accompanies the sense of changing the world, one free-of-charge contract review at a time. Many of our commercial clients look to DLA to help with their own corporate responsibility and pro bono requirements, and it is a real selling point for the firm that not only are we able to mirror this commitment, but we also offer unique opportunities to involve clients in our pro bono work. I have participated in a couple of joint pro bono activities with Barclays and RBS, for example, which has been a great chance to meet and interact with a range of people from different teams within the banks. I wouldn’t otherwise have met these clients, and working with them in a less formal environment has been a great way to forge relationships.
I feel really lucky to be part of DLA Piper's pro bono team. I have been able to take on a greater degree of responsibility for matters than my experience would otherwise allow; have met colleagues and clients I wouldn't necessarily have interacted with; and, most importantly, have contributed to some very worthwhile and dynamic causes.