Pro bono for all
Pinsent Masons' former head of communication has set up a pro bono scheme for non-lawyers in the legal profession.
Fred Banning founded Fifth Day with the aim of promoting volunteering opportunities for business operations staff at firms.
"There’s a recognition that pro bono work is good for your skills, your network and your soul," said Banning. "However, that culture of pro bono does not permeate the sector."
There are estimated to be around 30,000 business professionals in the top 100 UK firms, working in areas such as HR, finance, marketing, IT and facilities. "Yet how many firms prioritise and promote pro bono work by those allied professionals in the same way as they do for their legal experts?" asked Banning.
To address this, Fifth Day connects business services and other staff with projects and trustee roles, in partnership with a skills-based charity, Reach Volunteering. Fifth Day has also established a free Corporate Membership programme for firms to commit to promoting pro bono opportunities for non-fee earners.
Banning was effectively forced to finish work in 2020 after a terminal cancer diagnosis. "One of my great regrets was that, while I derived a huge amount of satisfaction from my career, I wished I had done more to use my skills and experience to benefit others," said Banning. "In speaking to friends and colleagues from several professional services firms, it seems clear to me that I’m not alone in this."
Following the launch this week, Banning told RollOnFriday: "I have been overwhelmed by the positivity and support from the market in response to the launch of Fifth Day. A number of individuals have indicated to me that they have signed up already, and a number of firms have also been in touch to discuss how we can take this forward, which is really exciting."
Fifth Day's advisory board comprises of Moira Slape (chief people officer at Travers Smith), David Halliwell (head of client engagement at Pinsents), Jeremy Ford (Skadden’s European head of marketing), and Nicola Sawford (former CEO of Serle Court Chambers).
"It was a privilege to have been asked by Fred to be part of the advisory board for Fifth Day," Moira Slape told RollOnFriday. "Fred's vision and drive are an inspiration."
"Business Services professionals are integral to the success of any law firm and with their skills, experience and versatility, they are well placed to provide value to charities and organisations who need professional support and advice," said Slape. "Fifth Day opens the door for many, many people to make a difference."
David Halliwell told RollOnFriday: "I'm delighted to be helping Fred get this up and running. I work four days a week now myself, so the idea of using my own fifth day to give something back is a concept that really resonated with me."
"There's a huge number of talented and committed professionals in law firms," Halliwell added, "if we can tap into some of those skills for charities and other organisations in need of a helping hand, then we will really be making a difference."