Centrum Pro Bono
Centrum Pro Bono serves as a gateway for NGOs to the professional legal resources and, on the other hand, is the main pro bono cases provider to the law firms.
We introduce to you an annual report containing detailed description of the pro bono legal aid provided by law firms in the year 2009 via Centrum Pro Bono.
In which areas is the legal aid to the NGOs most needed and why it should be free of charge?
Currently, there are over 50 000 NGOs in Poland and they all function in very difficult legal circumstances. Their day-to-day actions are determined not only by the fundamental acts like the Law on Foundations, Law on Associations and the Public Benefit and Volunteer Work Act, but also by complicated meanders of tax regulations, by civil, commercial and administrative laws, labor legislation and the Act on Freedom of Economic Activity. Dealing with all these regulations is a source of major problems for the NGOs and there is little chance they can cope with them without the expert legal knowledge. Professional legal services are something very few of the NGOs can afford (the turnover of the majority of the registered NGOs does not exceed 10 000 PLN per year and most of the grant sources do not finance administrative costs).
How do we work?
Professional legal services are something very few of the NGOs can afford. Therefore, Centrum Pro Bono accepts cases submitted by NGOs in matters concerning their operational issues which fall within the scope of the law firms specialization i.e. taxes, civil and commercial issues, public procurement, administrative and labor law. All of the law firms participating in the program are offered a list of issues from which they can choose a pro bono request best suiting their field of specialization and interest. Thus, the Centrum Pro Bono links NGOs with law firms willing to provide pro bono legal aid.
Matching NGOs with law firms is our major field of activity but also in a close cooperation with law firms we undertake various educational projects addressed to non-profit organizations and legislative campaign aimed at overcome fiscal obstacles to development of pro bono work.
Why Centrum Pro Bono?
• The people engaged in creating and working for the Centrum Pro Bono are very knowledgeable about NGOs and about the specificity of the third sector, therefore they are able to accurately determine which of the issues raised by the NGOs require support from a law firm.
• While most of the major law firms have the resources necessary for the pro publico bono legal activities as well as the willingness to engage in these activities, they do not have time to coordinate them. From January 2008 all the work concerning coordination of the cooperation between law firms and NGOs have been taken over by the Cenrtum Pro Bono
• Thanks to the Centrum Pro Bono the law firms participating in the program were given a ready product in the form of a clear-cut case
• Law firms are offered a list of issues from which they will be able to choose those best suiting their fields of specialization and the company’s image.
The Centrum Pro Bono operates as a program managed by the University Legal Clinics Foundation, however its initiators are four non governmental organizations: the University Legal Clinics Foundation, the Ashoka Foundation, the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights and the Public Interest Law Institute.
The project is financed by the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe.