Our Question Time campaign answers common queries raised by Howard Kennedy Trainee candidates. So here's the inside scoop!
How easy is it for trainees at Howard Kennedy to get involved in pro bono and charities? Simple answer: very!
At Howard Kennedy, pro bono and charity volunteering are more than just buzzwords. There is a real drive here to give something back to the wider community, but it is voluntary so don't worry if you have other commitments.
What opportunities are there?
We have a growing team of volunteers who help out at Toynbee Hall's Free Legal Advice Clinic. This is a great opportunity for lawyers and trainees to help with real world legal problems but on a more personal level. The clinic itself is open three evenings a week and also hosts a women's advice clinic on Saturdays, so you can sign up to volunteer when you think you are able. As for the matters you will be exposed to, it could be anything and I do mean ANYTHING! That is one of the things I like the most about the experience, as it really encourages you to think about the client you are helping, rather than just about their problem. Certain nights have a focus, but if you volunteer on a Wednesday, it'll be like pulling a Christmas cracker - you won't know what you will get, but I can guarantee the 'prize' will be more rewarding.
The other pro bono opportunity we have is assisting charities and not-for-profits with their legal problems through LawWorks. This you do 'in-house' with the assistance of a qualified lawyer who supervises. The matters you get through LawWorks are more like the matters you deal with day-to-day, but you are helping organisations who really appreciate the advice and assistance as they may otherwise not be able to afford it.
We also have a firm charity that we raise money for, and you can get involved in any way you can think of. Last year, a group of us, from trainees to partners, ran a 10K around the Olympic Park. In December. In the snow. That's how dedicated we are! Our new charity is Centrepoint, so you can get involved in events like the annual sleepout or use your volunteering day to help in other ways.
What's in it for you?
Pro bono and charity volunteering is an excellent to raise your own profile across the firm; I use it as a chance to meet people in departments where I have yet to do a seat and it is an excellent way to get a feel for that work. It also really helps develop your soft skills, such as interviewing and advising. I know my experience at Toynbee Hall has really helped me to improve my communication skills, as you learn quickly how to explain legal concepts to non-lawyers well.
There is also the knowledge that you have helped someone. With a commercial matter, it can be hard to feel that what you are doing is making an impact. With volunteering, you see it first-hand which can be a great boost if you need it.