Pro Bono Week
As Pro Bono Week is progressing, we wanted to shine a light on the great work global law firm Eversheds Sutherland have been doing to support their pensions lawyers in volunteering with us.
Eversheds Sutherland has been working with The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) since early 2022 promoting our volunteer adviser role as a way that pensions lawyers can use their skills and experience to really make a difference to our customers and the pensions industry as a whole, and the firm now has a team of 12 volunteering with our Early Resolution Service (ERS).
We asked Emma King, Eversheds Sutherland partner and TPO volunteer, about the benefits she and her colleagues get from the role. Emma told us:
‘Being a volunteer adviser with TPO offers a number of benefits, including:
- Increased job satisfaction – we put our skills to good use in helping to resolve disputes which are often the cause of distress and annoyance to both complainants and respondents
- Developing communication and interpersonal skills – we deal with all parties clearly, impartially, and yet empathetically, explaining difficult concepts in accurate but straightforward language
- Further developing legal skills and expertise (particularly for more junior colleagues) – we need to familiarise ourselves quickly with the relevant scheme rules and legislation, review historic paperwork, and prepare clear and concise responses’
Our partnership with Eversheds Sutherland has been successful due to the great work they do internally to promote volunteering and pro bono work more generally, an area their clients are becoming increasingly interested in. Eversheds Sutherland’s commitment to pro bono also supports the firm’s purpose of helping communities to thrive.
There is a misconception that lawyers cannot become TPO volunteer advisers due to potential conflicts of interest. Although this is an important consideration, it’s one that is easily managed.
Emma explained that:
‘A case can only be taken on once the usual in-house conflict checks have been carried out. But once conflicts are cleared, our lawyers have the specialist expertise to allow us to deal readily with the kinds of complaints which come to the ERS.’
Time commitment is a key consideration for all our volunteer advisers, perhaps more so for lawyers in private practice. The role is flexible – volunteers choose their own cases as and when they have the capacity to work on them. You can commit as little as an hour a week! One of the ways Eversheds Sutherland supports their staff to volunteer with us is by counting up to 25 hours of voluntary work per year towards lawyers’ annual chargeable hours target.
If you or your law firm would like to know more about getting involved in our volunteer network, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Paul.Day@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk for more information.
Emma left us with the following message:
‘Probably the most important message is to know that the ERS work is definitely something which is manageable alongside the day job, and is a really rewarding and flexible way of getting involved in pro bono work. It is a really positive experience both for the firm and for our lawyers to be involved in an initiative of this kind.’
- Cyber incident updateDate:
The Pensions Ombudsman has concluded its investigation into the cyber incident.
- TPO celebrates Pro Bono WeekDate:This week (6 to 10 November) marks the 22nd annual Pro Bono Week which gives The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) an opportunity to recognise and thank its volunteers from the legal profession.