The Bar Pro Bono Unit

The Bar Pro Bono Unit is the Bar’s national charity that makes it possible for barristers to balance a dedicated practice with making a significant contribution to the community.  We match make members of the public who need help with barristers who are willing to donate their time and expertise in deserving cases for those who are unable to obtain legal aid and cannot afford to pay.

The Unit is an application based service which members of the public can access via referral from advice agencies, law centres, or their local MP. 

The Unit ensures that in each case, the barrister providing assistance is of the same expertise and experience as would be expected in a paying case.  Every application is subject to the same rigorous procedure of checking, reviewing, communicating with the applicant, allocating to a barrister where appropriate and closing down once the work is complete.

We are the sole pro bono charity to provide legal assistance in all areas of law, across all levels from tribunal through to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Over 3600 barristers including a third of all QC’s have committed to take on pro bono cases on behalf of our applicants.

We do not seek any public funding and the source of our funding is almost entirely through the Bar.

To find out how to apply to us, please click here



The Bar Pro Bono Unit was established in 1996 by Peter Goldsmith QC, with 350 panel members and premises in Gray's Inn.

In the first year the Unit was awarded the Silver Medal at The Lawyer/HIFAL Awards and by 1998 the Unit's coverage reached 50 areas of law. By the year 2000 the number of panel members exceeded 1000 and the Bar in the Community scheme was established.

2004 saw the Unit relocate to bespoke premises at High Holborn, with the Free Representation Unit (FRU) alongside. The same year the Unit hosted the first "Early Bird" plenary seminar on pro bono work held at the Bar Conference and hosted by the Vice Chairman of the Bar.