“I believe that support can bring changes to a person’s life” Pro Bono Week Volunteer Profile

“I believe that support can bring changes to a person’s life” Pro Bono Week Volunteer Profile

Farhana Chowdhury has been volunteering at several FLAC clinics for over 3 years. She’s been an incredibly valuable and hardworking volunteer over that time, assisting with great sensitivity and expertise on countless cases.


Since 1898, Toynbee Hall’s Free Legal Advice Centre has been powered by pro bono volunteers giving up their time to provide free, expert legal advice. Each year it means 100s of people across London who would otherwise be unable to afford support get the help they need to exercise their rights. Over the last 12 months alone, 2250 hours of Pro Bono advice were provided to people across London at FLAC. At a time of growing demand for legal support, the support of these volunteers is more important than ever. We want to take the opportunity during Pro Bono Week  2020 to celebrate the achievements of some of our most dedicated Pro Bono volunteers..

We are delighted that Farhana has kindly given her time to share her experience of FLAC and her views on the value Pro Bono for legal professionals and for communities like ours in East London

What volunteering roles do you both have at FLAC and how long have you been doing it?

I have been volunteering as a Tier 1 legal advisor in Family, Civil Litigation, Housing Law and in Women Only Sessions at FLAC since February 2017. 

Pro Bono volunteering is important as it allows me to help others at difficult times within legal matters which can affect their health and mental wellbeing. I believe that support can bring changes to a person’s life as well as confidence. 

Why do you volunteer at FLAC and why do you think pro bono volunteering is important?

I have been volunteering at FLAC because I know how expensive legal fees can be at private law firms and not everyone is able to afford it. My Mum has always taught me to dedicate my time in supporting the community especially if you have great knowledge, skills and experience within a field i.e. legal.  

Pro Bono volunteering is important as it allows me to help others at difficult times within legal matters which can affect their health and mental wellbeing. I believe that support can bring changes to a person’s life as well as confidence. 

Is there a success you’ve had for a client that you’re particularly proud of? If so, how did you help the client and what outcome did you have?

Over the years with voluntary work at FLAC, I have had many success with clients. For example, in a family law case comprises of both divorce and domestic violence, I had supported the client with providing legal advice about the case and court process, completing forms, preparing trial bundles and giving confidence with litigant in person (LIP). The outcome was that the support given had allowed the client to do well in their case where both divorce and domestic violence had been approved by the Judge regardless of what the other party had contested. 

What’s your favourite part of volunteering at FLAC?

If you could change one thing to improve access to justice? To have online access available as well as the drop-in sessions.

My favourite part of volunteering at FLAC is the client’s satisfaction. They are very thankful of the time and support given and what I commonly come across from the clients is when they say, ‘now I understand and feel much confident about my case and the law itself…really thankful for your advice and the existence of Toynbee Hall FLAC.’ 

From your experience, if you could change one thing to improve access to justice for people in the communities FLAC serves, what would it be?

To have online advice access available as well as the drop-in sessions. 


If you want to support access to justice like Farhana and help people exercise their rights, please consider a donation towards the running costs of the service

Donate to support access to justice at FLAC

 

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