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Something for nothing

It's all very shiny and new, yes, but what does this National Pro Bono Centre actually do, asks Russell Conway

3 May 2011

Chancery Lane is a curious sort of street. A legal ghetto full of fusty barristers’ chambers and a smattering of solicitors’ offices, pursued by purveyors of legal uniforms offering wigs for the former and silk ties for the latter. Time was when there were also quite a few book shops, but the internet waits for no one so these are gradually going to that great big library in the sky.

It is probably a little unfortunate that one of the larger buildings just off Chancery Lane is the luridly labelled ‘London silver vaults’. Anyone entering this legal ghetto would probably associate this with the vast profits of the lawyers practising around abouts.

Travelling down Chancery Lane the other day I was struck by a new kid on the block - the National Pro Bono Centre. A glistening edifice of steel and stone, with huge windows and banks of computers, topped off with a sign shrieking the names of its sponsors. But not a lot seemed to be going on inside. It was all rather q...

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