Pro Bono

Originating from the Latin term meaning voluntary work aimed at fostering the common good, Pro Bono work is a rewarding and effective tool for social change.

The CULS Pro Bono team organises Pro Bono projects throughout the year. CULS members have opportunities to involve themselves in these projects which mainly address issues regarding access to justice and international human rights. If you’re interested in gaining new, practical legal skills, developing your awareness of social issues, and improving your local community, we highly encourage you to get involved.

CULS Pro Bono Run Their First Successful Book Collection Project in Partnership with the International Law Book Facility

By Amelia Quince, Willy Wai Yan Oo and Hannah Winning - Cambridge University Law Society Pro Bono Freshers’ Representatives, 2020-2021

Planning
When we were selected to become Pro Bono Freshers’ Representatives for CULS, we were handed the International Law Book Facility Project (ILBF) to work on. The society had not worked with ILBF before, so it was an exciting opportunity for us.
The ILBF Project required hours of planning to ensure the project ran smoothly. We were to ship the books to Assosa University in Ethiopia and Justice Defenders in Uganda, so we needed to ensure we had everything organised, from the collection of the books to the storage, packing and shipping. This was no small feat in the midst of a pandemic but despite this our planning was a success.

Initially, we contacted all the Cambridge college libraries to gauge whether they would be interested in playing a vital role in the project by donating books to us. We had a massive uptake from the colleges who were very keen to take part. This drove us on to organise the timeframe for the project, the logistics of collecting and packing the books, organising boxes and packing supplies and the most important of all; storage. Wolfson College kindly allowed us to use their conference centre for the packing and storage of the books until the books could be collected, which assisted us greatly. Our numerous meetings with Katrina Crossley, CEO of the ILBF, and Timothy Adetuyole, the ILBF’s shipping coordinator, helped and supported us throughout the project.

Finally, the day we had planned for arrived and we were ready to finally collect and pack the books.

Collecting the Books
The first task of the day was collecting the books from the college libraries. We hired a van, driven by Amelia’s dad, and drove all over Cambridge to the 12 college libraries. A highlight was reversing the van down Senate House Passage to Trinity Hall - a tight squeeze but we managed! We spent the morning collecting boxes from 10 college libraries, dropping the boxes off at Wolfson for the team to start packing. The afternoon consisted of two further visits; to Pembroke, where we collected 71 boxes of books, and to Christ’s. We were so grateful to all the fantastic college librarians who donated trolleys and helped us with the heavy lifting of the books. When the van finally arrived back at Wolfson, we were able to focus our attention on packing the books ready for shipping.

Sorting the Books
After sourcing a storage and sorting space for the donated books, we were fortunate enough to recruit some volunteers to help pack the books for shipment. During the packing of the books, it was important to ensure that the donated books were of good quality and still of legal relevance so that it would be useful to the recipients. The recipient organisations had also requested for books that covered specific areas of law, thus we helped to ensure that their direct needs were fulfilled by reallocating certain boxes of books. Despite the difficulties of packing the books during Cambridge’s hot summer, our team managed to push through by banding together and providing help where it was needed.

A week later, a courier arrived at Wolfson to collect the boxes to go to Ethiopia and Uganda. All together, we had 60 boxes of books containing around 10-15 books! We also had many boxes of law reports donated to us, which meant a team was required to go through the boxes, record which editions we had and then number and tape up the boxes. Although the reports were not to go to Ethiopia and Uganda, the ILBF project were keen to take these and so we managed to fit them into the van alongside the books for shipping, ready to ship at a later date. The books that we were unable to use in the project also went to a good home, as the final task for us was to load the boxes into taxis and donate them to a second-hand bookshop.

The boxes were collected by the Clifford Chance team and stored at Clifford Chance’s offices until the shipper was ready to take them to their shipping depot.

Final Thoughts
We are very grateful to have been able to have taken part in such a meaningful project. The project brought the Pro Bono Team and the Cambridge community together to sort and deliver the books. Our thanks go to Katrina and Timothy for their continued support and we look forward to seeing how Assosa University in Ethiopia and Justice Defenders in Uganda make use of the books donated.

Katrina Crossley, CEO of ILBF, said 'I am very impressed with the CULS pro bono team - they did a fantastic job to collect and pack so many valuable law books for our recipients. The books will be hugely appreciated by law students in Ethiopia and Uganda. I look forward to collaborating with CULS again!'.

To find out more about the great work of the International Law Book Facility, please visit their website: https://ilbf.org.uk.

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