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At Asda we passionately believe in becoming a valued and responsible part of the communities in which we trade. As head of the in-house legal team, I have a strong commitment to this philosophy. For this reason I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group (SPBG) and its latest initiative to extend and facilitate pro bono work into in-house legal teams and corporate lawyers in private practice.I believe that many corporate lawyers, if approached, would be interested in putting something back into their community, but simply do not know how to go about it or question whether their skills would be of any use. Traditionally, pro bono work has involved the provision of legal advice to individuals at Law Centres and Citizen’s Advice Bureaux and is viewed as more suited to litigation lawyers. However, many community groups and small charities need much the same legal advice as many businesses, on structure, tax, governance, employment and so on – all work ideally suited to the skills of in-house lawyers and corporate lawyers in firms. The type of advice required is often very simple, commercial guidance requiring very little effort on the lawyers part. However, because of the relatively high cost of legal advice, offering it on a pro bono basis provides a disproportionate benefit to many community groups and small charities which simply cannot afford it or do not understand how to access it. Law Works for Community Groups is designed to put those needing advice in touch with the experts and to relieve firms and in-house teams of the administrative burden. A very small amount of time given can make huge difference. I am confident that those teams that participate will in turn benefit by providing self development opportunities for their solicitors and the law firms will enhance their reputation in the eyes of their clients.Denise Jagger,Group company secretary and corporate counsel, Asda and a member of the Law Works for Community Group’s Lawyers Committee, part of the SPBG.

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