Line-up of top UK law firms pitch in with pro bono help for riot-hit businesses

Linklaters, Eversheds and DLA Piper are among a raft of top 20 UK law firms to have offered pro bono legal support to victims of the London riots.

Legal charity LawWorks, in conjunction with the Law Society, Bar Pro Bono Unit and member firms, have set up a scheme, called Riot Help, to assist those affected by the UK riots, in particular owners of small independent businesses to have suffered as a result of the unrest.

To date, 15 UK top 20 law firms have donated to the helpline and offered free legal advice on a range of legal matters including insurance, compensation and property and employment law.

Firms to have pledged their support to the helpline include Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DLA, Eversheds, Freshfields, Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells, Irwin Mitchell, Linklaters, Norton Rose, Simmons & Simmons, SJ Berwin and Slaughter and May. Nabarro has also offered money and services to the cause.

Linklaters global head of corporate responsibility Matt Sparkes commented: “The riots presented an urgent need for resources and practical legal support. The helpline enables us to offer our expertise to the people who need it most and it reinforces the importance for firms like us to be active in communities.”

Eversheds has donated £5,000 to the helpline and has also pledged pro bono legal advice.

Meanwhile, a group of 12 London-based partners and legal directors at DLA have held a series of legal surgeries in Ealing, Tottenham, Haringey, Croyden, Peckham and Newham.

DLA real estate partner Richard Crossfield, who attended a recent surgery in Ealing, said: “Attending the surgery brought home to the team the impact that the events have had on small business people. This was evidenced by the DLA team who last night tried to help a man whose restaurant had been burnt down and is facing potential bankruptcy and the loss of his home.”

Law Society president John Wotton added: “The Law Society has been calling on the profession to provide pro bono assistance to help meet the demand. I have been hugely impressed by the response of solicitors so far who are demonstrating yet again their commitment to a just and stable society and urge others to join the movement.”

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