Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk SW3

“Bold and Excellent”

The Pro Bono Cafe #probonocafe

Photos: Pro Bono Cafe 2009 at Harvest Cafe, Byron Bay; Lecture at Bond University Law School, Gold Coast about the benefits of lawyers doing Pro Bono legal work 2009; Pro Bono Cafe 2010 at Harvest Cafe; Pro Bono Cafe 2011 at Harvest Cafe; Pro Bono Cafe 2011 at Bumbles Cafe, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast; Pro Bono Cafe 2014 at Harvest Cafe; Pro Bono Cafe 2016 at Harvest; Pro Bono Cafe 2017 at Poinciana Cafe, Mullumbimby; Pro Bono Café 2019 at Targa Café, Byron Bay; 2022 at Bayleaf Café, Byron Bay; Poro Bono Café at Ginn Jinn Café in Byron Bay in October 2023.

About the Pro Bono Cafe

Jonathan started the “Pro Bono Cafe” in August 2009, just after the GFC when people were really hurting (See the Blog here). It has now become a heavily attended annual event known as the “Pro Bono Cafe”.

The format of the Pro Bono Cafe is that any client turns up, off the street,  at the local cafe (Harvest Cafe in Byron Bay or Bumbles Cafe in Surfers Paradise- two who have helped) on a Monday morning and Jonathan provides free legal advice to those clients in an informal cafe  environment.

He provides individual legal conferences for clients, who receive his sole attention, on a one on one basis. He takes any type of legal matter including:  financial problems, debt, business issues, bankruptcy, family law, children’s care and parenting, loss of wages or termination, people disinherited from wills, criminal charges and immigration concerns.  His early experience as a full time barrister gave him the ability to deal effectively  with new, multiple and sometimes complex issues.

There are no appointments necessary and clients arrive and wait their turn for a time slot.

The conferences occur on 2 or 3 consecutive Mondays, subject to demand and time availability. Jonathan  has, in the past, done up to 8 Mondays in a row. He used to do them on his own.  However, now Tyndall & Co. staff are available to help with on the spot online legal research, note taking and preparation of  a written advice, which Jonathan emails to the client.

Jonathan  does any follow up reading, preparation or writing in his Chambers between the Mondays. Sometimes law students volunteer to help, and this has been very helpful and they in turn receive invaluable experience and learn to give back to others.

There is no charge for any legal help provided and no obligation exists to brief the firm later on in any matter. Previously, in one year only, he  tried  to recoup  the large cost of the advertising of these events, with a nominal fee. However, that trial did not work and was abandoned.  Once again, the firm fully funds the Pro Bono Cafe and pays for absolutely everything, including the lawyer time,  the cost of advertising for the events, staff wages and the cost of the coffees. It is totally free.

The Pro Bono Cafe is not a sales ploy to  attract paid work from clients who attend. We aim to finalise the task at hand and give the client a written advice which they can progress themselves or take anywhere, including to another lawyer if they choose. The Pro Bono Cafe is not supported by Legal Aid and many of the clients helped can’t get it anyway. It is an unconditional, no strings attached,  straight gift as pro bono (free)  legal help.

Clients surveyed have overwhelmingly recorded these events as being positively beneficial and a great idea.

Why does Tyndall & Co. give free legal help at their Pro Bono Cafe?

The Tyndall & Co. ethos or belief is that giving is receiving.  The more you give, the more you receive. And  the more time lawyers spend helping people who need it for free, the more successful those lawyers  become.  This is the real reason why lawyers should give more of their time for free. It makes them more successful!

Of course, Tyndall & Co. also provides normal paid for legal services which is the main business of the firm and how it sustains itself. They are not free lawyers, or government sponsored, and can’t give all of their time for free or they  would have quickly disappeared.

We are happy to help other law firms start and run our Pro Bono Cafe plan in their local area and utilise our plan and experience. And of course, we are happy to do this on a Pro Bono basis for free. Everyone is a winner including the greater good. Contact us.

You can read Jonathan’s papers delivered on Pro Bono here.