Pro Bono is a Latin term meaning "for the good of the public". In the legal profession it refers to the provision of legal services free of charge
We support and run a range of pro bono initiatives in the School of Law that benefit the community, whilst providing valuable real-world experience for our students.
Access to free legal services is now more important than ever. Cuts to legal aid in recent years have left the most vulnerable people in society without access to essential legal advice and support needed to pursue justice.
Since the launch of our first pro bono scheme in 2008, we have expanded to 10 schemes with over 200 places for student volunteers. Undergraduate and postgraduate students can volunteer and benefit from improved interpersonal skills, legal research, public speaking and client care skills.
The variety of schemes and and the number of places available make this law school stand out from the crowd. Here are the current schemes our students can apply to get involved with:
Pro Bono Schemes at the School of Law:
Students benefit from working alongside fully qualified commercial solicitors to give reliable and relevant advice when developing guidance notes; and taking part in the various advice sessions offered to SME's (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) by the Innovations Centre with external law and accountancy firm partners.
Criminal Justice Initiative
The Criminal Justice Initiative is a collaboration between the Centre for Criminal Appeals and partner universities. The Initiative aims to train the next generation of lawyers who will prosecute and defend people accused of crimes, and transform the way such cases are approached, both by the system and by individual lawyers.
Working as part of a team, students benefit from being mentored by academic staff and undergo training covering a range of topics: the appeals process, defence investigation methods, forensic document analysis and case file management, confidentiality, data protection and self-care.
FreeLaw is a student led service offering free legal advice to the public. Working in groups, students will cover most areas of law from contractual disputes, to housing, employment and much more. Law students will conduct interviews and undertake the required research. However, research is always overseen by a qualified solicitor to ensure the advice received is accurate and relevant.
FreeLaw can also assist with referring clients to a firm or organisation that is more capable of handling their specific case if necessary.
Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre
The Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre has now been running at the University of Sheffield since 2008. Working in a team, the Review Centre is student-led and centres upon the study and re-investigation of alleged wrongful criminal convictions. The project is innovative in giving students a unique first-hand experience and insight into this area of criminal justice utilising a mentored teaching environment to maximize learning opportunities.
It is a highly impactful project which has attracted international recognition and acclaim. Legal aid isn’t available to such people once they have exhausted the initial appeals process, so here’s where our law students really make a difference, by offering their services free of charge.
Pro Bono Schemes outside of the School of Law:
|South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice Centre||
South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice Centre is a locally led and run, non-political and non-denominational group of volunteers. Its members include lawyers, students, people experienced in the asylum field and those who are new to it. Students benefit from the SYRLJ Training Programme, with the aim of integrating practical experience of the asylum process with academic knowledge and legal skills.
|Citizens Advice Sheffield||
Citizens Advice Sheffield is Sheffield’s leading provider of advice services and advocacy services. They help about 20,000 people a year and aim to tackle poverty and campaign for social justice. Students benefit from working alongside a large workforce of both volunteers and paid staff members, including advisers. The Citizens Advice Centre provides confidential, independent, impartial and free.
Visit the Citizens Advice Sheffield website.
|Personal Support Unit||
The School works in partnership with the Personal Support Unit (PSU) at the Sheffield Combined Court Centre. The PSU provide support to unrepresented litigants, inexperienced court users, witnesses and family members. The support offered is very varied, consisting of practical information, help with filling forms and sorting papers, going in to court with litigants and taking notes of the proceedings, help around the building and providing a listening ear to people who may be in a stressful situation.
Students benefit from full PSU training and having the opportunity to build their knowledge of county court and family court procedures. It is a great opportunity to meet with members of the legal profession and help the local community.
Visit the Personal Support Unit web page.
Victim Support is the independent charity for people affected by crime and traumatic events in England and Wales. Students benefit from working alongside specialist teams in providing individual, independent, emotional and practical help to enable people to cope and recover from the effects of crime. Victim Support also have a wealth of support and training available for any volunteer who joins them, including regular one-to-ones.
Visit the Victim Support website.
|Langsett Advice and Area Resources Centre||
The Langsett Advice and Area Resources Centre offers advice on a variety of areas, including benefits, employment, housing, consumer, tax, debt and much more. Students will have the opportunity to work alongside a team of volunteers and paid advisors in creating a seamless customer service.
The Witness Service provides a vital service offering free and independent support for witnesses in every criminal court across England and Wales. Students benefit from practical information about process, as well as emotional support to help increase confidence when giving evidence.