Corporate social responsibility

As a firm we have a collective responsibility to the wider community and the environment around us. The firm’s CSR programme uses the skills and time of our people - solicitors and business services - to support disadvantaged communities, through the provision of practical help and financial support. The firm actively encourages its employees to get involved wherever possible.

We aim to have a positive impact through our four main themes of CSR activity:

Read more in our 2019 highlights and in our 2018 report.

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, solicitors, 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

In November 2017, we launched our new pro bono clinic at St Hilda’s East Community Centre in Tower Hamlets. St Hilda’s is a well-established community organisation, providing a wide-range of services and opportunities to local people. This initiative won the Best New Pro Bono Activity Award at the 2018 Law Works Pro Bono Awards.

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity

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.

Impetus Trust

Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation transforms the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by ensuring they get the right support to succeed in school, in work and in life. Macfarlanes has supported Impetus and it’s charities with legal advice for eight years. Last year this advice included supporting the Impetus' Investment Committee with on-boarding a new charity, Springboard, into their portfolio.

Prostate Cancer 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 in 2014. Last year, we provided 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.

Noah's Ark Children's Hospice

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice is a community-based hospice service providing support for children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions (and their families) in North and Central London. Macfarlanes has provided pro bono advice to the charity since October 2014, primarily in relation to the charity's site in Barnet, consisting of a nature reserve set in 7.5 acres of woodland and fields.

Refugee Law Clinic

Macfarlanes is a founding partner of a new 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 solicitors are provided with detailed training and work in teams with UoL law students. The Clinic took on its first clients in August 2020.

Refugee Law Clinic

Free Legal Answers

Free Legal Answers is a new programme operated by LawWorks which enables access to pro bono legal advice and information on civil law matters in England and Wales for people who would not otherwise be able to access this type of support. Volunteer solicitors (including Macfarlanes’ solicitors) provide free legal advice via a dedicated website thereby increasing the ways in which legal advice and information can be offered, particularly during Covid-19 when in-person clinics are less accessible.

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 has partnered with 15billionEBP (the Education Business Partnership for Newham) for over ten years, supporting students at local schools and colleges to develop the skills and qualities needed for the world of work.

School mentoring programme

Each year staff mentor 40 pupils on a one-to-one basis across three schools, providing careers support, conducting mock interviews, developing their confidence and presentation skills, and exploring problems which they may encounter. Students’ feedback shows that this programme has a significant impact on supporting their academic development, raising future aspirations and providing a valuable insight into the world of work.

Accessing apprenticeships

Our support in the Newham borough extends further than our school mentoring programme.  In Autumn 2017 we launched a large-scale careers programme to educate teachers within Newham on the different levels of apprenticeships available and particularly higher level qualifications. Research shows that there is a significant gap around teachers receiving the relevant information on higher level apprenticeships and how this compares to a university qualification. As a result, teachers are unable to provide accurate advice to their students. We have delivered workshops to 150 teachers working in secondary schools across Newham. 

Setting targets with my mentor was really useful because it helped me plan ahead, which is something I am normally bad at.
Year 10 mentee

Roll on Monday with St Mungo’s

Three years ago, St Mungo’s homeless charity partnered with legal publication RollOnFriday to launch their RollOnMonday scheme, which sees City firms employ work-ready homeless candidates for a minimum of three months on at least the London Living Wage. Macfarlanes was one of the founding supporter employers on this scheme. Over the last two years we have employed six people in various departments across the firm, thereby considerably improving their future employability prospects.

I recently arranged my Macfarlanes’ Community Day with a charity called Share Community. Share provides training and employment for disabled people. Those teaching the courses are very knowledgeable and I learnt a great deal from them while volunteering, including from the students themselves.

Macfarlanes' community day

In May 2017 we launched the “Macfarlanes’ Community Day” as part of the firm’s CSR programme. Every member of staff may take one paid day per calendar year to volunteer for a firm-approved charity or community project such as:

  • A day centre for the homeless in Acton
  • A food bank in Islington
  • Community gardening for vulnerable people in Peckham
  • Digital skills session for older people in Hackney
  • Bike maintenance with asylum seekers in Southwark

This also forms part of our trainee solicitor induction.