A newly formed group of in-house lawyers recently provided advice to social entrepreneurs in an event hosted by A&L Goodbody LLP (ALG) and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI).
The free legal-education session was provided by the In-House Pro Bono Lawyers Network (PBN), a community of lawyers employed in-house by large organisations who collectively believe in the value of providing pro bono work.
The audience at the event – ‘Future proof your idea: Key legal updates for social enterprises’ – was a selection of SEI’s 600-strong alumni community.
SEI, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, aims to provide support to people who come up with new ideas to tackle Ireland’s social problems.
Senior ALG lawyers and PBN members addressed the event on topics such as choosing the right corporate structure for an organisation, the role of the board of directors and company secretary, an introduction to employment law, and the fundamentals of data protection.
The PBN speakers came from Bank of America, BNP Paribas, PTSB, TikTok, and Uisce Éireann.
“The coming together of this pro bono network is a ground-breaking initiative that will help to accelerate the pace of positive social change in Ireland,” said SEI’s chief executive Tim Griffiths.
In-house lawyers can provide legal services only to their employer, and not to third parties.
As a result, in-house lawyers who wish to provide services to third parties – including pro bono legal work – must provide such services through a law firm or independent law centre.
ALG provides ‘conduit’
The PBN, facilitated by ALG, is a conduit through which in-house lawyers can collaborate to provide these legal services.
Eithne Lynch (head of pro bono at ALG) said that the event marked the first project undertaken through the newly established PBN.
“The aim of the network is to foster a culture of commitment to pro bono in Ireland, to promote and improve pro bono service and delivery, and to collaborate to make the best use of our unique skill set as lawyers for the benefit of others,” she stated.