Lawyers Get Social with Pro Bono Network

22nd November 2023

Posted In: FYI

“Social entrepreneurs have a pivotal role to play in shaping the future of Irish society through spearheading solutions to social problems in communities across the country” – that’s the message from A&L Goodbody LLP (ALG) and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) who hosted a free legal education session for some of Ireland’s prominent changemakers yesterday (21.11.23).

The Future proof your idea – Key legal updates for social enterprises’ event audience was made up of a selection of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s 600 strong alumni community. SEI is dedicated to delivering accelerated social change through the power of people and will celebrate its 20thanniversary in 2024.

The session brought together for the first time the In-House Pro Bono Lawyers Network (the PBN), a community of lawyers employed ‘in-house’ by large organisations, who collectively believe in the value of providing pro bono work.

Senior ALG lawyers and members of the PBN presented at the event on topics such as choosing the right corporate structure for your organisation, the role of the Board of Directors and company secretary, an introduction to employment law and the fundamentals of data protection. The PBN speakers came from Bank of America (supporter of SEI’s Ideas Academy), BNP Paribas, PTSB, TikTok, and Uisce Éireann. All attendees were given a chance to inform the content of each presentation in advance and ask questions of the experts on the day.

Speaking at the event, Tim Griffiths, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland said “We are delighted to be able to bring together our social entrepreneur community to benefit from the expertise and insight of some of Ireland’s top legal minds, on some crucial topics impacting them. A&L Goodbody’s legal advice and expertise has been an invaluable asset to us at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for over 10 years.

The coming together of this pro bono network is a groundbreaking initiative that will help to accelerate the pace of positive social change in Ireland”.

In Ireland, in-house lawyers can only provide legal services to their employer, not to third parties. As such, in-house lawyers who wish to provide legal services to third parties, including pro bono legal services, must provide such services through a law firm or independent law centre. The PBN, facilitated by ALG, is a conduit through which in-house lawyers can collaborate to provide pro bono legal services.

Some of the social impact organisations who benefited from the training included SEI alumni Pocket Forests, Dcode Dyslexia and Alexia Press Hub.

Eithne Lynch, Head of Pro Bono at A&L Goodbody, remarked “This event marks the first project undertaken through our newly established In-House Lawyers Pro Bono Network.

The aim of the network is to foster a culture of commitment to pro bono in Ireland, to promote and improve pro bono service and delivery and to collaborate to make the best use of our unique skill set as lawyers for the benefit of others”.

Pictured are (L-R) Laura Carthy, Lawyer, BNP Paribas; Deirdre Kelly, PTSB; Eithne Lynch, ALG; Noeleen McHenry, Uisce Eireann; Catherine May, Bank of America; Ross Moore, ALG and Aoibheann Duffy, TikTok. Photo © Shane O’Neill, Coalesce.