Pro bono clearinghouses broker free legal advice for individuals or organisations from practising legal professionals. They act as intermediaries between people or organizations needing legal assistance and lawyers prepared and able to assist. By acting as a hub for the skills and expertise of the legal world, a pro bono clearinghouse provides NGOs, governments and/or individuals with an identiﬁable mechanism through which they can ﬁnd legal support. It provides access to an otherwise inaccessible service.
Pro bono clearinghouses are operating across the planet. If your clearinghouse is not included below, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to add yourself to the useful contacts page and start editing the Online Pro Bono Manual.
The Manual was first prepared jointly by Advocates for International Development (A4ID) and PILnet: the Global Network for Public Interest Law in 2011. This online wiki has been established to lever in the expertise and experiences of the wider pro bono community by turning the manual into a living document.
The Online Pro Bono Clearinghouse Manual offers practical tools, advice and templates for establishing and maintaining a clearinghouse. The online manual is currently organized roughly into three parts: 1) general and strategic advice 2) practical tips based on sector experience and 3) templates, documents and resources.
Having an understanding of the background allows new clearinghouses to be grounded in the international pro bono community. Likewise, getting back to the basics can allow operating clearinghouses to refocus on the parts of their mission that really matter. This site includes basic, golden rules of operating a clearinghouse, a glossary of some of the jargon and terms that clearinghouses may come across, advice on being clear about your clearinghouse's mission and objectives and information about how the manual started.
No two clearinghouses will face the same challenges or have the same experiences, but learning from the experiences of others will help new or already operating clearinghouses avoid pitfalls and take advantage of comparable opportunities. On the site you will be able find practical advice on how to establish and run a clearinghouse, on how to publicize your work, on maintaining financial sustainability and on helping to build a culture where legal pro bono is more commonplace.
Every clearinghouse will have to find processes and ways of working that work for them, but that should not mean the continual reinvention of the wheel within the sector.
Through the site, project participants intend to reduce duplicated effort in the sector by providing examples of documents and resources that they use within their own clearinghouse.
The Online Pro Bono Clearinghouse is powered by Dokuwiki. In order to maintain the quality of the manual, only registered users are able to edit the content. Pro bono clearinghouses can register to edit the manual by contacting email@example.com.
Dokuwiki is relatively simple to edit, but new users will find the introductory guides provided by Dokuwiki useful when starting out. Errors can usually be undone by returning to earlier versions of individual pages, so - while users are expected to improve the manual - they are encouraged not to be afraid of making mistakes. If you have any further queries about advanced edits to the manual or making more structural changes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Users are also encouraged to add new content, pages and resources to the site as well as maintaining the accuracy and relevancy of the information currently held on the manual. In this way it is hoped that more information and shared experiences will be shared through the site and the manual will continue to grow.