Corporate social responsibility

As a firm we have a collective responsibility to the wider community and the environment around us. Our Community and Charities programme uses the skills and time of our people - to support disadvantaged communities, through the provision of practical help and financial support. We actively encourage everyone to get involved wherever possible.

We aim to make a positive impact through our three main themes of CSR activity:

Our CSR activities are developed and co-ordinated by our active CSR Committee, consisting of staff from across the firm, together with our charity champions.

Increasing access to justice

As a major law firm, we have a role to play in promoting fairer access to legal advice by providing free legal assistance to disadvantaged communities and to charitable organisations (thereby enabling those organisations to focus their economic resources on delivering support to their beneficiaries).

Partners, associates, trainees and paralegals across the firm volunteer to provide pro bono legal advice to a range of charities and community groups. Macfarlanes is a signatory to the national Pro Bono Protocol and to the Law Society's Pro Bono Charter, both of which confirm the firm’s commitment to providing pro bono advice.

Through our pro bono work we are able to help non-profit organisations and individuals who may not otherwise have access to legal services. Lawyers at all levels from partners to trainees (including our future trainees undertaking the LPC) are encouraged to take part and many make a significant contribution in this field.

These are some of the organisations with which we work:

St Hilda's East Legal Advice Clinic

Legal Advice Service

Our award-winning pro bono clinic runs every Thursday evening. St Hilda’s is a well-established community organisation, providing a wide-range of services and opportunities to local people.

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Refugee Law Clinic

Providing pro bono legal advice for refugee clients

Macfarlanes is a founding partner of a Refugee Law Clinic, together with the University of London (UoL), the Refugee Law Initiative and Clifford Chance. The Clinic complements the work of refugee advice organisations across London and enables asylum seekers to put forward fresh claims for asylum on the basis of important new factors e.g. additional evidence coming to light or home country developments. Volunteer associates are provided with detailed training and work in teams with UoL law students. Since its launch in 2020, the clinic has submitted 39 meritorious fresh claims, of which 14 have been granted asylum.

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Cambridge House

A London-based centre fighting poverty, social inequity and injustice

Cambridge House is a charity based in Southwark, which does important work tackling poverty, social justice and social inequality. The firm has a long-standing close relationship with Cambridge House and we provide ongoing pro bono support for the charity in HR, contract matters, charity governance and, most recently, real estate advice.

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Level 20

A not-for-profit organisation founded with the aim of improving gender diversity in the private equity industry

Level 20 is a not-for-profit organisation founded with the aim of improving gender diversity in the private equity industry. The firm supports the work of Level 20 and solicitors across the firm provide ongoing pro bono contractual and charity law advice.

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Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

Provider of life-saving cancer treatment and care

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity raises money to support The Royal Marsden, a world-leading cancer centre. The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity was our Charity of the Year 2018-2019 and we have continued to provide the charity with pro bono legal support. This includes pro bono construction law advice on the development of The Royal Marsden’s new Oak Cancer Centre.

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Prostate Cancer UK

National organisation for prostate cancer in the UK

Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) has a simple ambition – to stop men dying from prostate cancer, through radical improvements in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and support. Macfarlanes has been providing pro bono legal support to PCUK since it was our charity of the year some years ago. We continue to provide pro bono advice on a wide variety of matters including reviewing key events and sponsorship contracts as well as on intellectual property and data protection laws.

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Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity

An international centre of excellence in child healthcare

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity raises money to enable Great Ormond Street Hospital to provide world-class care for its young patients and their families. Most recently we have provided pro bono legal advice in relation to the review of a wide range of commercial contracts and real estate matters.

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The Line

A public art project in East London

The Line is a public art walk running between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2, in London. It hosts regular outdoor exhibitions and events and we provide ongoing contractual and charity law advice on a pro bono basis to the charity.

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Supporting opportunity

Our staff support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop their skills and aspirations for the future, through education, employability and enterprise support, work experience and mentoring programmes.

We focus on Newham, East London

As part of our efforts around social mobility, we work to encourage young people from less privileged backgrounds to broaden their horizons and to aim high in their education and aspirations. As a firm, we have chosen to focus our support on the borough of Newham which, of our neighboring boroughs, receives far less support from the corporate sector.

Macfarlanes partners with Inspire (the Education Business Partnership for Newham and Hackney), supporting students at local schools and colleges to develop the skills and qualities needed for the world of work.

Hemisphere Education in schools with Legal CORE

Legal CORE (Collaboration on Race and Ethnicity) is a leadership-led, cross-firm collective aimed at tackling the underrepresentation of ethnic minority groups in the UK legal sector. 21 Legal CORE member firms have partnered with RARE to fund racial literacy training in schools via a new social impact initiative Hemisphere Education. Then partnership will offer the training to selected UK schools every year, for three years.

Hemisphere is a brain-training platform that disrupts unconscious bias and improves racial literacy. From hair to names to cultural norms, Hemisphere provides teachers with a toolkit to understand, safeguard and nourish Black students. Over 85% of teachers have never had any specific training on the experience of Black children in education. This is a first, and it works: 90% of users commit to changing their practice.

Macfarlanes is one of the founding members of Legal CORE and the firm will be supporting three schools via this initiative.

The best unconscious bias training that my staff could have. This isn’t just about race. It’s about wanting to do our best by our students — and we do that by building relationships and a sense of belonging.
Nevita Pandya Headteacher, Townley Grammar School

Macfarlanes' community day

As part of the firm’s CSR programme every member of staff may take an unlimited number of days to volunteer for a firm-approved charity or community project such as:

  • Gardening at Hammersmith City Community Gardens
  • An art therapy session with adults with learning disabilities at Arts For All
  • Weighing and sorting food at Harold Hill Foodbank
  • Supporting chefs and packaging meals at Felix’s Kitchen

This also forms part of our trainee solicitor induction.