The first ever National Pro Bono Centre (NPBC) is set to open formally on Tuesday 19 October at its new premises at 48 Chancery Lane, in the heart of the legal community.
The centre draws together the main legal profession's charities, the Bar Pro Bono Unit, LawWorks and the ILEX Pro Bono Forum. The aim is to provide a more joined-up service to members of the public and to community groups in need of legal help but who cannot access legal aid and who cannot afford to pay legal fees.
Speaking on behalf of the three charities and the NPBC, the chairman of the Bar Pro Bono Unit Robin Knowles QC said: "Bringing the pro bono community together in this important, new and exciting way will make a further positive difference to many people's lives, and in turn to society. I am proud of the profession's readiness to make this happen."
However the opening of the new centre comes a day before the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review, which may lead to the NPBC having to fill the vacuum left by cuts to legal aid.
Many legal centres across England and Wales are under threat as local councils and the Legal Services Commission cut funding. The South Manchester Law Centre is the latest service that is facing closure when it's funding is cut next month by more than £40,000 a month. Campaigners fighting to save the centre have staged a protest today outside Manchester Town Hall.