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Pro bono opportunities for business services staff

A new initiative is inviting business operations professionals at large law firms to donate their time, as lawyers do.

Fifth Day aims to link around 30,000 people working in HR, marketing, finance and secretarial roles in the top 100 law firms, with third sector organisations needing volunteers.

It is also establishing a voluntary corporate membership programme under which law firms commit to promoting and giving equivalence to pro bono opportunities among their non-fee-earning communities.

To assist them, Fifth Day connects people with projects and trustee roles through its website, developed in partnership with Reach Volunteering. Many of the opportunities can be done remotely.

Fifth Day was set up by Pinsent Masons’ former head of communications, Fred Banning after he was effectively forced to finish work in 2020 after a terminal cancer diagnosis.

“One of my great regrets was that, while I derived a huge amount of satisfaction from my career, I wished I had done more to use my skills and experience to benefit others.

“In speaking to friends and colleagues from several professional services firms, it seems clear to me that I’m not alone in this. The experience of the pandemic has given people a chance to step back and re-evaluate what they want from their lives and careers.

“It’s no secret that, even before the pandemic, firms were responding to desire for greater purpose among their employees. That has only been accelerated by Covid. Skills-based volunteering is one way to achieve that.”

Janet Thorne, chief executive of Reach Volunteering, which says it is the UK’s single biggest source of trustees for the voluntary sector, added: “There is an immense, untapped pool of talent within law firms in specialisms including digital, finance and HR.

“These highly skilled professionals could be a huge benefit to charities who are often under-resourced in these areas and need support for short-term projects or long-term roles such as trustees.”

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