Pro Bono Week profile: Mark Townsend

03 November 2021

Please tell us about the pro bono work you did
I have worked (and continue to work) to promote pro bono work to our barristers.

It may not sound as significant as the legal advice and representation the barristers are doing on the pro bono cases themselves. But I’m the first point of contact for the referrers of pro bono work. And I help identify a suitable barrister to take on each case.

What impact did the pro bono work have on the people and communities you worked with?
Whether the case ends up in the Court of Appeal, or the barrister advises that a claim is unlikely to succeed, the important thing is that the aggrieved individual feels they’ve had access to professional advice.

Nowadays, many people don’t qualify for legal aid yet lack the funds to pay solicitor’s or barrister’s fees. So they miss out on support from someone who understands how the legal system works.

I’m sure trying to navigate the system alone would make an already stressful situation even worse.

Did your pro bono work have an impact on your professional career? If so, in what ways?
I find coordinating the pro bono cases satisfying.

It’s nice to get our more junior barristers involved in pro bono cases that end up in the higher courts so they develop their experience. And it’s heartening when our more senior barristers take on pro bono cases that may enhance their applications for silk or judicial appointments.

On a personal level, I like feeling I’ve contributed to helping someone who can’t afford legal advice or representation to get support during a difficult time in their life.

Any final comments
Pro bono work can be incredibly rewarding for barristers and clerks. It’s worth playing your part in some way.