Ask the adviser – Clifford Chance in East London
Clifford Chance, a leading international law firm has taken on responsibility for writing a weekly column, ‘Ask the Adviser’ in the Newham Recorder. The column offers advice on legal issues raised by residents visiting local LawWorks clinics.
The initiative reflects the firm’s strong commitment to improving access to justice as part of their corporate social responsibility activities. The project aims to disseminate free public legal education
‘to improve local people’s ability to solve the problems they face themselves or to seek specialist advice more effectively’.
Decisions about the areas of law to cover are guided by evidence collected at Clifford Chance’s weekly LawWorks clinics and hence reflect some of the community’s most pressing legal problems. In 2010, the column focused on :
- education issues (special educational needs, educating children with long term illnesses, truancy, admissions appeals, education maintenance Allowance);
- the elderly (pension entitlement, wills, sheltered accommodation, carer’s allowances, the Blue Badge Scheme); and
- consumer issues (doorstep selling, mobile phones, legal obligations of car owners, credit rating, identity theft).
The Newham Recorder has around 50,000 readers each week. The editor reports that readers frequently contact the paper to say how much they value the column and to commend the accessibility and range of material that it covers.
Clifford Chance encourages all their lawyers to participate in the variety of pro bono and community programmes co-ordinated by the firm. During the last financial year 52 articles were drafted by lawyers including some of their senior partners. Tom Dunn, a full time pro bono lawyer at the firm says that this reflects the genuine institutionalisation of pro bono within the culture of the firm.
‘We want every Clifford Chance office to engage with its local community, using its talents and resources to help others.‘
‘Those taking part in our schemes are not motivated by reward or recognition alone, but rather by the perspectives they gain on the world outside business law and the opportunity to make a social impact‘.
For several years, Clifford Chance has worked closely with Community Links in Newham to improve access to legal advice.
Clifford Chance Foundation
In 2008, Clifford Chance established the Clifford Chance Foundation to co-ordinate their charitable giving. The funding is targeted at community-related projects (in addition to the giving and sponsorships already undertaken by individual offices) that align with their core focus on widening access to justice, education and finance.
More about : Clifford Chance Foundation
Access to Justice Award
In 2010, Clifford Chance launched a Access to Justice Award aimed at recognising and supporting the ambitions of not for profit organisations who have lead the way in helping the most vulnerable people and communities in the world gain access to justice.
More about: Access to Justice award
LawWorks is a charity which aims to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay for it and who are unable to access legal aid. They work with just under 100 member law firms and teams of in-house counsel, as well as mediators, law students and solicitors. A ‘LawWorks Clinic’ is a term used to describe a pro bono (i.e. free) legal advice session that is supported by LawWorks.
More about LawWorks
Clifford Chance is a signatory to LawWork’s lawworks-joint-protocol-253 (22 KB).
Published: 21 April 2010