Parliamentary pro bono group relaunched with new chair
The Conservative MP for Cheltenham will chair the relaunched All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pro Bono.
Alex Chalk (pictured) will steer the group, which got off the ground again last month after being in abeyance since the last chair, former Conservative MP Jessica Lee, stood down from parliament. Its revival owes much to the establishment of the new APPG on Public Legal Education, as MPs involved in that group also wanted to support pro bono initiatives, but felt it was clearer to have a separate group.
The Law Society sponsored the relaunch event, which was attended by its president, Jonathan Smithers, Solicitor-General Robert Buckland QC and the chief executive of the London Legal Support Trust, Natalia Rymaszewska. Chalk and Buckland emphasised the importance of the voluntary sector in providing ‘the infrastructure’ for the delivery of pro bono, and that such work should be seen as an ‘adjunct to’, and in no way a replacement for, a publicly funded legal aid system. Opposing the notion mooted by the Lord Chancellor and justice secretary, Michael Gove, that an element of compulsion should be introduced, Buckland emphasised that pro bono work should be provided on the basis of ‘good will and voluntarism’.
The APPG will organise events to promote pro bono, engage with law firms and organisations delivering pro bono, and seek to encourage MPs to promote and facilitate such work in their constituencies.