Legal Resources for Nonprofits
In the current economic climate where community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises are faced with increasingly limited resources, sourcing pro-bono or low cost legal services is a key way of controlling costs.
The Boardmatch Ireland Charity Legal Survey 2014 highlighted that the key areas in which nonprofits are seeking legal advice are Employment, Contracts/Service Level Agreements and Constitution & Governance issues and that 47% of Boards discuss legal issues monthly or quarterly.
We have listed below some organisations that may be able to assist you in securing free or low-cost legal resources. It is also worth approaching large legal firms, particularly those that are part of an international firm, and enquiring if they can provide supports via their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. Below you’ll also find details of a free mediation service for members of The Wheel, and an introduction to Public Interest Litigation for advocacy groups.
Free or Low Cost Legal Resources
TrustLaw-Thomson Reuters Foundation
Through TrustLaw, lawyers help organisations tackle their legal issues for free. This means NGOs and social enterprises can focus on their impact instead of spending vital resources on legal support.
The Bar of Ireland - Voluntary Assistance Scheme
The Voluntary Assistance Scheme (VAS) is the pro bono scheme of The Bar of Ireland providing access to free barrister services to charities. They can help charities with a wide variety of legal issues.
FLAC-Free Legal Advice Centres
FLAC is an independent voluntary organisation that helps people to understand and access their rights.
FLAC offers basic legal information to the public through its phone line and operates a network of free legal advice clinics in 71 locations across the country. FLAC also takes on a small number of cases which have the potential to change the law in the public interest.
There are a significant number of candidates with legal expertise registered on the Boardmatch website seeking directorships.
Ballymun Community Law Centre
Ballymun Community Law Centre provides free legal advice, representation, legal education and mediation for individuals and groups within the community.
Community Law & Mediation
Based in North Dublin and Limerick, Community Law and Mediation works to empower individuals experiencing disadvantage by providing free legal, mediation and information services.
Mercy Law Resource Centre
Mercy Law Resource Centre provides free legal advice and representation, in an accessible way, to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the areas of Social Housing and Social Welfare Law.
Free Mediation for Members of The Wheel
This is a free service for smaller charities and community and voluntary groups that are members of The Wheel. The project makes available professional, trained mediation expertise as a voluntary initiative, somewhat similar to free legal aid.
To be considered, applicant organisations must complete a simple application form.
Public Interest Litigation for Advocacy Groups
Many community and voluntary organisations who are engaged in significant advocacy work are also interested in the developing area of public interest litigation (PIL). PIL seeks to establish a new point of general law, while also securing a benefit for the individual involved and can be a very effective way of using the law to effect change for marginalised and disadvantaged groups.
PILA-Public Interest Law Alliance
PILA runs a Pro Bono Referral Scheme that connects social justice organisations with free legal expertise provided by a pro bono barrister or solicitor.
Organisations can access legal assistance for any legal need they have, for which they do not have a budget. This can include legal advice on corporate governance, policy and campaign work, litigation, training and beyond.
PILA is a project of FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres).