With National Pro Bono Week starting on the 5th November, I thought it timely to share my experiences working as a trainee for this worthwhile pursuit. The numbers of pro bono hours undertaken by city firms has been dropping year on year, but it is encouraging to see that Michelmores retains a strong commitment to pro bono work. With Legal Aid cuts being announced all the time, the need to provide a pro bono service is certainly topical.
So, one Thursday morning I was sat at my desk getting on with some work, when I noticed David Howe, our head of property, standing next to me, asking the loaded question: ‘have you got any plans for tonight?’. What we were going to do, he explained, was to go on a site visit. The property team are involved in providing pro bono advice to a community association in a small village. We were to meet some of the committee this evening, and to look at the property they had recently acquired. David explained that some works needed to take place which would need to be carefully examined as, after the visit, I would be drafting an appropriate Deed of Mutual Easement for the parties involved. He handed me the file to read and asked me to meet him at 5pm.
We drove down to the village together and met some of the members of the association, who were extremely nice, and didn’t seem to mind the tag-along trainee! It was a really good feeling to be spending an evening with such lovely people who were all working together to pursue a benevolent cause. Not only that, but I was able to watch one of the most respected lawyers in the property world relate to clients and answer difficult legal advice. It also punctuated the importance of site visits; it really is worthwhile to look at a property physically rather than just looking at the boundaries ‘edged red’ on a title plan.
I have been given more work to do on this matter and am excited to see it progress. The National Pro Bono Week is held to celebrate the involvement of solicitors who give up some of their time to provide their services for free for the sake of the public good, and I am very proud to be involved in this with Michelmores.