•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences
An estimated 2-minute read

Pro Bono

 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in

[Aside from the jokes begging to be made about the lead singer of U2, I would like to state for the record that this is a very serious post.]


Before the QLTS scheme came into effect this month, qualifying in the UK via the QLTT route required you to gain 40 hours of contentious experience. This could be gained in one of two ways- either you did six months in the litigation department of the firm or you went to clinics to advise those who couldn’t otherwise afford legal advice. Being highly focussed on transactional work, I did not want to spend six months of my training contract in the litigation department- I completed my contentious hours advising at various legal advice clinics. This is their story.


There is no pretty way of describing these legal aid clinics. They are usually pretty out-of-the-way, ramshackle basement offices with poor lighting and they all possess a peculiar dank, musty smell. At times, a defunct photocopier and/or receptionist clutter the area.


Getting back to the story, with half a dozen visits, I finished the required hours. However, what had started on the side as a means of completing a particular requirement for my qualification suddenly had become an extremely important part of my experience as a lawyer in London. Why did I keep going back to these holes-in-the-wall even when I didn’t have to, you ask?


The answer to that question lies with those clients who’d queue for hours outside the clinic just to consult us, braving the harsh London winter. To date, I have seen a huge variety of clients at the clinics- the homeless, the debt-ridden, the recently retrenched- to name a few. Some clients were angry, some were plain rude, some were in tears, some had long criminal records- but above all what they all needed was to tell their stories. And I haven’t yet been able to get myself to stop listening.


I detest it when people classify pro bono as charity. On the contrary, I believe that pro bono helps corporate lawyers by providing perspective. I may have closed a multi-billion pound acquisition the same day, but pro bono has taught me that a few hundred pounds can be much more important. In some ways it’s a cleansing exercise- a panacea for the guilt of having sold out to the corporate world, the champagne dinners and the wasteful ways in which money is burnt around us.


Most importantly, pro bono taught me that my learning can be valued in non-monetary terms, i.e., when the clock isn’t running at 350 quid an hour. It has taught me to be on top of my game at all times because even when the advice isn’t paid for, the effects of poor advice are very real for the people involved. It taught me that just listening to people wins you their undying gratitude.  


Many a time I have cursed myself for being on my way to one of these clinics when I could have been enjoying a pint at the Banker on a glorious summer evening. Nevertheless, every time I’ve walked out after finishing a pro bono session, I’ve been on the top of the world. 



You can follow Nandii Reywal on Twitter at twitter.com/nandiireywal

Click to show 6 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.