Kerry Underwood


with 14 comments


For all of you as fed up as I am by the notion that lawyers, alone of all trades and professions, should carry out work free, I am happy to provide a template reply.

This is an actual exchange between a person we had had no previous contact with, who, surprise, surprise, obtained our name from an Internet Search, and Robert Males, my business partner, who, normally is rather milder-mannered than me.

are you able to provide free legal representation? I am working, however I am not able to afford solicitors fees.
Thank you


Robert Males’ reply

I thank you for your enquiry.
My firm does not provide free legal representation. If my firm’s bank provides interest free loans, my governing  body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, will authorize my firm to practise for free, my firm’s professional indemnity insurance is reduced to nil, my firm’s staff will all work for nothing, if the computer company who I deal with will provide all computers and servicing free of charge and if the stationery business who we deal with will give us all paper and consumables for free and the utilities will provide gas, electricity and water for free then I may be in a position to provide free representation. Until that time I am not.
My firm does however do a considerable amount of free work for charitable institutions including the Royal British Legion and the Lord’s Taverners charity for disadvantaged children as well as making donations to other very good causes.
The only reason that we can do this is because we charge our clients for the very high quality legal advice and work that we do on their behalf.
Yours sincerely
Robert Males
Managing Partner

Written by kerryunderwood

April 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

14 Responses

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  1. Brilliant Kerry, is there copyright on this?

    Neil Coombes

    April 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    • Thank-you Neil. No copyyright! Everyone please use, share, spread, retweet etc. as much as you want. Let us get the message across that pro bono is positively harmful to the law, the legal profession and our clients!


      April 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

  2. Why does the Law Society etc condone and promote pro bono work? It is difficult enough getting paid for the work we do without our representatives raising an expectation in the general public’s eyes that we are foolish enough to do this. There are some deserving causes, but the majority are not and will use any excuse to score a freebie. In addition to this there is even the the suggestion that has got into urban folklore that if you complain your bill will be reduced. We are sitting targets and in this time of austerity and increased practice regulations the sooner people are diabused of the idea that lawyers have nothing better to do than handle their affairs for free the better.
    Perhaps the promoters of pro bono, see they have invented a phrase which will raise expectations even more, will set an example by not drawing a wage for the work they do.


    May 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    • I agree entirely. Pro bono is used as a marketing tool by many very large firms who do no real legal work in the community.


      May 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm

  3. Brilliant! I was just moaning about this problem today (again) with my fellow Director of clients wanting free advice. They usually want the free advice urgently too…

    Jennifer McCarthy

    May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

  4. Reblogged this on Kerry Underwood and commented:

    To celebrate National Pro Bono week – or maybe not…


    November 8, 2012 at 11:00 am

  5. The problem isn’t about pro bono work itself. If it’s ‘worth it,’ then do it. If the pro bono client needs it, then give it. Problem is, the trouble is how the client receives and treats the pro bono work being done for them. One extreme is for them to treat the pro bono as worthless because it’s ‘free.’ The other extreme is some clients are so kneecap-knockingly scared of the whole legal universe of their case that they’ve become distracted by the whole thing and become paralysed as clients. The last time I did pro bono (2008-09) nearly put me out of business. Just my twopence from Hong Kong – Robert.


    November 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    • Largely agree.All firms do a lot of free work. I dislike putting a tail on it and giving it a name and i dislike the fact that it has been hijacked by huge firms who actually do almost no free work compared with their size, but use it to justify charging huge fees and not doing any socially useful work as part of their day to day business.


      November 9, 2012 at 8:28 am

      • Yup. That about sums it up for me too. Nice post (and comments too).


        November 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm

  6. […] April he posted to his blog under the title Free Legal Work (Pro Bono): No Thanks! I disliked it then and again when he used National Pro Bono Week as justification to re-blog it. […]

    • Excellently put – as always! I am only surprised your colleague neglected to offer him the Underwood CFA, which even he could afford.

      Ian Austin

      March 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm

  7. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    Although it’s perhaps sad to say that if I had sent such a response, I’d be half expecting a letter from LeO at some point in the following 6 years as a result of a complaint made by the non-client. Which I’d have to waste more time (for free) responding to and then face a bill from LeO for their “work” and a requirement to make a compensatory award to the freeloader for hurting his feelings a bit.

    Geoff Geoffington

    November 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

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