By Patricia Taylor
On 5 November 2020, the Scottish Young Lawyers' Association was delighted to deliver its contribution to the 19th annual Pro Bono Week: a webinar entitled 'Pro Bono Opportunities for Young Lawyers in Scotland'.
Our panellists joined SYLA President and Chair of the event, Ayla Iridag, for what was an insightful evening of discussion and reflection; and what turned out to be the most inspiring after-work-webinar that most of us would attend this year (at least!).
The SYLA welcomed:
Following the speakers' introductory remarks, Ayla asked the panel: "Why do we do it?" - it being Pro Bono work. Seonaid, a firm believer in using law as a tool for social justice, remarked that a lawyer's engagement with Pro Bono is necessary, in order to represent the society in which we operate, and to ensure said society feels empowered to take control.
Lucy echoed this sentiment, noting that "your rights are your own, and you should be able to exercise them". Eamon observed that Pro Bono services strengthen our ability to address the demographic of those at risk of falling through the cracks. He referenced empirical evidence speaking to the fact that early access to good legal advice can see off disputes before they are able to evolve. Eamon reinforced that unmet legal need is encountered in all walks, and at all stages, of life.
The aforementioned demographic is far-reaching; necessitating the need for our Pro Bono efforts to reach even further.
Rebecca stated that there should be no boundaries to accessing justice. Her comments mirrored that of the other panellists, and her closing remarks were of resounding significance: Why do we do it? "Because it matters. Everybody matters."
Ayla then sparked discussion as to whether Pro Bono in Scotland has set precedent, to which Seonaid responded that we need only look to the "community-good" derived from this work, particularly in relation to supporting party-litigants through the Court process. Not only is this a service to the Courts, but to the system of wider-community that is reliant upon us.
In answer to "why should lawyers in private practice get involved?", our panellists noted the following:
We want to extend another huge thank you to our speakers, and our members who attended the event. We, as well as our panellists, were delighted to receive enquiries from members seeking to become involved with Pro Bono in Scotland. Please find some helpful links below: