Issue 99: June 2015
Welcome to the June 2015 edition of National Pro Bono News, from the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
This is the 99th issue of National Pro Bono News – look out for a big announcement in our 100th issue next month!
We welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this edition, read about:
- CONFERENCE: Registrations for the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference close Friday!
- AWARDS: Congratulations to recent award winners
- REPORT: Walk for Justice numbers up again
- REPORT: Pro bono in Tasmania
- INTERNATIONAL: Early enthusiasm for pro bono in Indonesia
- CONFERENCE: 3rd National Rural Law and Justice Conference coming in July
- PROFILE: James Hutchinson from the Westpac In-house legal team
- EVENT: Homeless Person’s Legal Service Luncheon, Sydney
- AWARDS: NSW Justice Awards nominations close 30 June
- BY THE NUMBERS: National Pro Bono Aspirational Target
- JOB: Join the NPBRC team: The Centre is recruiting a new Policy Officer
- JOBS: For the latest jobs check out Social Justice Opportunities
- PRO BONO IN THE NEWS: May – June 2015
Registrations for the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference close Friday!
It is your last chance to register for the Fifth National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference, to be held at Sheraton on the Park in Sydney on 18 – 19 June. The Conference is held every two years, and is hosted by the Centre, the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of the state in which the Conference is held – this year by the Law Society of NSW. Registrations for the Conference close this Friday.
For more information, including a full program and list of speakers, or to register please visit the Conference website at a2j2015.com.au.
Congratulations to recent award winners
The Centre congratulates award winners Antoinette Braybrook, Skye Rose and Adam Levine.
This month Antoinette Braybrook won the Law Institute of Victoria’s Access to Justice/Pro Bono Award.
Antoinette has been the CEO of the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service Victoria since its establishment in 2002. She has expanded the organisation from one to four office locations and increased the number of staff from one to more than 30 people statewide.
Antoinette was born in Victoria on Wurundjeri country, with her grandfather and mother being from the Kuku Yalangi nation in Far North Queensland. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from Deakin University in 2000 and was admitted as a legal practitioner in Victoria in 2004.
Antoinette holds the elected position of National Convenor of the National Family Violence and Prevention Legal Services Forum and has been a powerful advocate for access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, particularly victims of family violence, both in Victoria and on a national scale.
Antoinette will be speaking at the forthcoming National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference in Sydney in the plenary session titled, Human Rights in the Home, a Conversation.
Skye Rose, Senior Lawyer, Equality Law Program, Victoria Legal Aid, won the LIV Victorian Government Lawyer of the Year award.
Skye was formerly the senior policy officer at the National Pro Bono Resource Centre from 2007 to 2010.
Kristen Hilton, Civil Justice, Access and Equity Director, said the award recognises Skye’s commitment to achieving systemic change through strategic advocacy and the best possible outcome for her clients.
One case that particularly highlighted Skye’s talents involved a discrimination complaint by a young Muslim woman, Ms Ziarata Zia, which led to a policy change by a Victorian health provider, Monash Health. Skye was able to resolve the matter for Ms Zia despite many obstacles. Monash Health will now prioritise requests for same-gender care based on religious beliefs, cultural concerns and past trauma.
Adam Levine, a K & L Gates Perth-based partner, received the Attorney General’s Community Service Law Award for Western Australia’s top pro bono lawyer for 2015. This award honors the WA legal practitioner who does the most outstanding pro bono legal work for the community. Adam has been one of the key drivers of the development of law firm pro bono culture in the West, including the development of the new Law Access service in WA established in February 2015.
In conferring the award, Western Australian Attorney-General Michael Mischin said:
“A Menora lawyer who donates hundreds of hours each year towards helping Perth’s homeless is the winner of this year’s Attorney-General’s Community Service Law Award.
Adam has been described as a passionate advocate for pro bono work, despite being a busy corporate partner at large international law firm K&L Gates.
He has coordinated pro bono work for the firm’s Perth office for more than 10 years and spends hundreds of hours every year doing pro bono work, including all the legal work for Manna Inc, a local charity which provides meals and other assistance to the homeless and disadvantaged.
I congratulate Adam for using his legal skills to help the disadvantaged in our community and hope his commitment to pro bono work sets an example among his peers.”
Walk for Justice numbers up again
The 8th Walk for Justice was held on National Pro Bono Day, 12 May 2015, in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and, for the first time, the Gold Coast and Toowoomba. Over 2,500 people participated in the 8th Walk for Justice held on 12 May 2015 in Queensland, South Australia, NSW and Victoria, raising a total of over $111,000 to support the work of pro bono clearing houses QPILCH, JusticeNet SA and Justice Connect.
Not only does the event raise the public profile of the pro bono legal work undertaken by members of the profession, and much needed funds for the pro bono clearing houses but also serves as an opportunity for the sector to leisurely network in their joggers before breakfast.
In South Australia over $53,000 was raised for JusticeNet SA by lawyers, librarians, students and many others from across the legal profession and beyond, including The Honourable Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia. Lipman Karas again won the Walk for Justice Cup as the highest fundraising team and Bec Welling from Cowell Clarke won individual honours. The inaugural Walk for Justice University Shield was presented to the highest fundraising University team being the Flinders University Law Students’ Association and the Flinders Criminal Justice Student Association. Tania Puccio from that team was rewarded as the highest fundraising University student. Glenunga High International High School was the highest fundraising Secondary School.
JusticeNet SA thanks their sponsors (The Law Society, Taylor & Holmes, Coffee Central, Data Mobility Voice, BankSA, Ferrier Hodgson, Adelaide Central Market and Wavals) for fully covering the cost of the event and providing prizes for fundraisers.For more reports and photos from the Walk, visit JusticeNet SA’s Facebook page.
The walk took place in a record seven locations in Queensland this year, with over 1,000 walkers, including The Hon Yvette D’Ath MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Training and Skills, and Chief Justice Tim Carmody participating to raise more than $30,000. Congratulations to the team from North Quarter Lane Chambers who took the Justice Cup for the second year running for the highest team and to Hayley Grossberg, a law student and QPILCH volunteer for being the highest individual fund raiser.
QPILCH would like to thank the Bar Association of Queensland and The Queensland Law Society for sponsoring the Walk, and Clayton Utz for donating 1,000 bottles of water to appreciative walkers.For photos from the Walk please visit QPILCH’s Facebook page.
More than 900 walkers participated in events held in Victoria and New South Wales, raising over $30,000 to support Justice Connect. The top fundraising team for 2015 was Justice Connect’s own Homeless Law, while Helen Green was the highest individual fund raiser. Honourable mentions were made of Colin Biggers & Paisley Lawyers who led the Sydney walk alongside the ACU MacKillop Law Students Society, and DLA Piper who carried the Melbourne flag with the University of Melbourne Law School representatives.
The walks that took place in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle were generously supported by Delaware North, the Law Society of NSW, Denver’s, Young’s, Foley’s, Green’s, Lyus LeGal’s and List A from the Victorian Bar. For more reports on these Walks please visit Justice Connect’s Walk for Justice page.
The 9th Walk for Justice will take place on Tuesday 10 May 2016.
Pro bono in Tasmania
Progress is being made on the pro bono front in Tasmania despite some unique challenges. Being a less populated state, there is simply a smaller pool of legal professionals to draw on for pro bono legal assistance. The firms are smaller and have less capacity than the bigger law firm offices in Sydney and Melbourne. The historical absence of pro bono infrastructure in Tasmania, such as clearing houses or well-established pro bono practices, has meant that the development of pro bono culture and awareness of pro bono may not be as strong as it is in larger jurisdictions.
Luke Rheinberger, the Executive Director of the Law Society of Tasmania, and Robert Manning, chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the Law Society and a senior associate at the Tasmanian law firm, Murdoch Clarke, spoke to the Centre about the profession’s pro bono efforts. They explained that a large amount of pro bono in Tasmania is also undertaken by practitioners without being recorded or recognised.
“It is integrated into their daily practice as a small firm or sole practitioner, rather than being a separate area of practice as is often the case with larger firms with formal pro bono practices. Given that there are no large firms in Tasmania, it is a challenge to encourage greater participation amongst ‘smaller players’ which are essentially small businesses operating on a lean budget. As with any other small business, they need to reach a level of financial security before they can invest resources in pro bono.”
The establishment of the Pro Bono Committee at the Law Society over three years ago, comprising nine members with an interest in improving access to justice in Tasmania, has greatly improved the coordination and awareness of pro bono legal work in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Pro Bono Clearing House, managed by the Law Society, processes around one request for pro bono legal assistance per week, and is able to place nearly all the matters that are determined by the Committee to have merit.
A vital resource that has made a significant difference to the Law Society’s ability to run the Pro Bono Scheme efficiently and effectively is a secondee from the Australian Government Solicitor, particularly given the seniority of the current secondee.
David Wilson, a senior lawyer in AGS’s Hobart office, has been the TPBCH secondee for over 12 months. David explained that the work can be challenging because of the diversity of legal issues raised, many outside his day to day experience. He said that identifying the legal problem and obtaining relevant information from the applicant can also be challenging:
“Applicants sometimes provide very little information or provide large amounts of irrelevant material while omitting important information. In an extreme example, an applicant brought in two suitcases of documents! However, it is satisfying when the committee approves an application and a lawyer is found to provide much needed legal assistance.”
AGS has been a signatory to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target since November 2008 and won the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its 2013-14 pro bono program at the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association Lawyer of the Year Awards in 2014.
AGS has provided lawyers on a secondment basis to pro bono/public interest clearing houses in various parts of Australia. Its secondment arrangement with the TPBCH has been in place since February 2013. Geetha Nair, the AGS National Pro Bono Manager, explained that she was keen to ensure that AGS’s pro bono program extended to assisting disadvantaged members of the community all across Australia. At the time she contacted the TPBCH, they had no secondment arrangements for pro bono support from any law firms.
Given the constraints on the provision of pro bono legal assistance in Tasmania, the TPBCH has a fairly rigorous merits review test for applications. Prior to AGS’s involvement, merits assessments were undertaken by committee members or other lawyers acting on a pro bono basis. Having an AGS secondee available to undertake merits assessments for consideration by the committee has significantly reduced the need for merits assessments to be referred out.
Another constraint on pro bono is the risk of conflicts, real or perceived, which is greater in a smaller jurisdiction. In this context, a pro bono partnership with a large firm outside Tasmania has provided a solution for Hobart Community Legal Service. HCLS’s relationship with DLA Piper was formed when they participated in a pilot project which involved lawyers from DLA Piper in Melbourne delivering pro bono legal assistance to clients at an outreach office of HCLS via video conferencing. A particularly successful aspect of the project was the training and mentoring assistance that DLA provided to solicitors at HCLS.
HCLS had previously found it difficult, near impossible, to obtain pro bono assistance in employment law matters given that most of the Tasmanian firms with expertise in this area either had a direct conflict or were concerned about the impact on potential commercial clients of the appearance of conflict. Lack of expertise, coupled with limited resources as a Community Legal Service, means that clients of HCLS are rarely supported through proceedings in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) past the conciliation stage.
The assistance of DLA Piper has made a huge difference to HCLS’s ability to assist clients where mediation is unsuccessful and there are special circumstances warranting continued legal support on appeal. HCLS was recently successful in an appeal before the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission as a direct result of the mentoring assistance provided as part of their pro bono partnership with DLA Piper. Jane Hutchison, Director of HCLS, explains:
“In this particular instance, we assisted an individual to pursue an unfair dismissal remedy against their former employer. We were successful at hearing and the FWC agreed with our position. The Respondent subsequently appealed the decision and the matter was listed for hearing before the Full Bench of the FWC.
With limited resources and solicitors at HCLS who are inexperienced in the area of law, coupled with a lack of pro bono assistance from local firms, it would have been difficult to run the appeal. However HCLS’s relation with DLA Piper meant that we could draw on the expertise of the industrial relations team from the DLA Piper Melbourne office, who were briefed on the full history of the matter and the subsequent appeal. Through a number of telephone conferences with the group at DLA Piper, we had access to the vast resources of the firm. We were provided with support in the areas of research, preparation and drafting of documentary material and submissions. If had not been for our relationship with DLA Piper, we may not have been able to assist the client.”
Early enthusiasm for pro bono in Indonesia
Participants in the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice’s ‘Workshop on Pro Bono Legal Services and Legal Aid in Indonesia’
The Centre’s Director, John Corker, was recently a guest of the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice at a two day workshop held in Jakarta on the topic of legal aid and pro bono in Indonesia. Other ‘international experts’ attending were Peter Thomson, from the Law Council of Australia, Bruce Lasky from BABSEA CLE, and Ed Rekosh from PILnet.
The workshop was attended by about 40 participants, the majority of whom were lawyers working in the regional offices of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (Yayasan LBH Indonesia or YLBHI), with other attendees from the Indonesian Advocates Association (PERADI), being the main professional association of lawyers in Indonesia, and a few lawyers from local firms including Oentoeng, Suna and Partners, the firm associated with Ashurst in Indonesia. Other larger firms were invited but did not attend.
Established in 1970, the YLBHI is a civil legal aid organisation receiving financial support from the government for the first time in 2011. It has 15 legal aid institute offices (LBHs) in regional cities of Indonesia and receives thousands of requests for help every year from many in need including farmers, labourers, those afflicted with mental illness and vulnerable women and children. LBH lawyers work hard for little remuneration, are experienced lawyers, and have a commitment to ‘cause lawyering’. Facing other significant barriers, such as corruption in the judicial system, they have had to be strategic about which cases they run. In a country with 250 million people spread across 18,000 islands, with as many as 150 million people earning less than $7 a day, there is much unmet legal need.
The pro bono ethos drives LBH lawyers’ to be involved in taking on cases without fee where the injustice is great and they believe they have a chance of a favourable outcome. This is what they call structural legal aid, a notion that includes public interest litigation as well as non-litigation activities such as legal and political criticism, research, publication, and community education.
The idea of encouraging more pro bono lawyers to help them with this workload was appealing to workshop participants, and there was much interest in how this has been done in other countries, notably Singapore. However, larger firms will need to work to build trust with the LBH lawyers, given their experiences of corruption in the Indonesian legal system and the part that large corporations may play within that system.
According to the Global Corruption Barometer 2013, maintained by Transparency International, the legal system and courts are perceived by Indonesian households to be the second most corrupt public institutions in the country. This perception was confirmed by workshop participants and presents a real barrier to advancement of the rule of law in Indonesia. For example, in 2011 and 2012, several judges were arrested on charges of corruption. One of the judges was found guilty of passive bribery in a commercial case and sentenced to four years in prison.
Unfortunately Indonesia has had difficulty over a long period of time settling on one unified bar association which has made it difficult to develop one set of ethical conduct rules for its members. The main Indonesian legal professional association (PERADI) recommends that its members provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal assistance every year but there is currently little monitoring of compliance. Peter Thomson from the Law Council of Australia had a series of meetings with representatives from PERADI with a view to finding ways to support them to strengthen their organisation, which itself has had corruption allegations made against it. This would seem to be a priority if the legal profession itself is to lead on the issue of pro bono development as it has done so ably in Singapore.
Some discussion was also held about the role and function of a pro bono clearing house, but the consensus of the gathering was this development was premature. The timing of the workshop, held only a day before the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, provided a sombre backdrop for discussing the important issues of legal ethics, the rule of law, and the strength of legal professional associations. However, the obvious enthusiasm and interest amongst the participants in access to justice, which is the common experience of those who become involved in discussing pro bono in Asia, provided a heartening and very welcome sense of optimism.
3rd National Rural Law and Justice Conference coming in July
The 3rd National Rural Law and Justice Conference, hosted by the National Rural Law and Justice Alliance, will be held at the Orange NSW campus of Charles Sturt University on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July. Registrations are now open, and cost $350 for NRLJA members and $400 for non-members.
The theme of this year’s Conference is “Reframing Rurality: Driving Innovation in Rural Justice,” and will showcase innovation in justice and legal service outcomes for rural, regional and remote Australia. The aim of the conference is to rethink ways of improving access to justice for all Australians, providing the opportunity to discuss the challenges, prospects and future focus to achieve equal access to justice across Australia.
The Conference has a diverse list of speakers, including The Hon. Chris Kourakis (Chief Justice, Supreme Court of South Australia), Dr Casssandra Goldie (CEO, Australian Council of Social Services), Prof Leslie Ferraz (Executive Coordinator, Brazilian Center for Judicial Studies and Research), Ms Antoinette Braybrook (CEO , Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service) and the Centre’s Policy Officer, Afton Fife, who will be presenting a paper on “Pro Bono Legal Services via Video Conferencing: Opportunities and Challenges.” The draft program is available here.
The Conference will also feature the inaugural National Rural Law and Justice Innovation Awards, which will be presented by Dr Cassandra Goldie. The Awards are a joint initiative of the NRLJA and Deakin University’s Centre for Rural Regional Law and Justice.
James Hutchinson from the Westpac In-house legal team
This month we caught up with James Hutchinson, Head of WIB Legal at Westpac about the range of pro bono work provided by the Westpac in-house legal team that includes working with Justice Connect, Homeless Connect, Good Return, ANZAC Ultra and Run Against Violence.
Westpac’s pro bono initiative is covered by the Centre’s National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme. The Scheme provides insurance for lawyers and paralegals working on pro bono projects approved by the Centre.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have worked in private practice here and in London before moving in-house with Westpac. In between stints in private practice I also worked for a number of years with a specialist community legal centre in Sydney. This gave me my first exposure to the not-for-profit sector and a range of initiatives focussing on members of the community who for a variety of reasons cannot readily access legal advice through other channels.
How did Westpac come to be involved in doing pro bono legal work?
Westpac has a very well-developed sustainability program across the Group, a vital part of which is support for our communities. This laid a solid foundation for the development of our pro bono initiative which was endorsed and supported by our General Counsel and the Westpac Legal leadership team.
From there I had the pleasure of working with a team drawn from across our legal function who spent time establishing some parameters and guidelines for our initial piloting of a pro bono initiative and, crucially, identifying organisations we might work with and support, including the Centre.
This led to discussions with our panel firm Gilbert + Tobin, who have a very mature pro bono program, which opened up a really valuable opportunity for members of our team to receive initial training and buddy up with G+T lawyers engaged in pro bono work.
How did you find out about the Scheme?
I had for some years before joining Westpac been aware of John Corker and his work with the Centre. A call to John to understand the Scheme and how Westpac Legal’s pro bono initiative might work within the Scheme led to some really useful insights on opportunities across this area of practice.
If the Scheme had not been available to you would it have been possible for you to obtain PI insurance to enable the Westpac in-house legal team to carry out this pro bono legal work?
It may have been possible, but I doubt that establishing a workable arrangement for PI cover outside the well-established infrastructure operated through the Scheme would have been practical.
Westpac’s pro bono program assists many individuals and organisations. What have been some of the highlights of the pro bono program for you? A variety of organisations have accessed support through the initiative. These include, recently, the ANZAC Ultra and Run Against Violence. I am seeing a particular area where we can add value is in advice on corporate structure options and approaches to fundraising. This makes sense given the well-established sustainability programs that the Westpac Group supports and the experience our Legal and Secretariat team has built in providing advice and guidance to those programs.
What do you think are some of the key factors in fostering a strong pro bono culture within an in-house corporate legal team?
Never underestimate the depth of enthusiasm in a legal team for applying their skills outside the “day job.” Sometimes all it takes is to offer the opportunity and environment and, from a leadership point of view “give permission”, to take part in an initiative such as our pro bono program.
What advice would you give to other lawyers interested in getting involved in pro bono legal work?
Variety and value. While there is plenty of diversity and challenge in most lawyers’ lives (it’s the nature of the role), exposure to pro bono work can be a very healthy step that not only delivers value to clients but also to the lawyer. This is more than just a feel good factor. I think undertaking pro bono work can actually open up new ways of thinking about problems which will ultimately make for a better lawyer.
The Centre is a great place to start if you are thinking about setting up an in-house program. But I also think just talking to your colleagues can unlock some wisdom. We found that when setting up our initiative that there was already a range of experience in supporting not-for-profit organisations that team members could draw on.
Homeless Person’s Legal Service Luncheon, Sydney
The Law Society of NSW is hosting the Homeless Person’s Legal Service Luncheon on 24 June. Come along to hear from Edward Santow (Chief Executive Officer, Public Interest Advocacy Centre) Ross Buchanan (General Counsel, Commercial and Division Director, Legal and Governance, Macquarie Group Limited) about the expansion of the Service and the pro bono contribution which in-house lawyers can make.
The free Luncheon will be held at the Law Society of NSW from 12.30-2pm on 24 June. To register, please complete the online booking form, or for further information contact Marlene Brueton via email@example.com.
NSW Justice Awards nominations close 30 June
Nominations for the 2015 Justice Awards, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, close on Tuesday 30 June 2015.
Each year the Centre sponsors the Pro Bono Partnership Award, presented to a partnership comprising a private law firm, community organisation and/or community legal centre in NSW which has developed an outstanding pro bono legal assistance relationship, resulting in improved access to justice for disadvantaged people in the community.
For more information, including selection criteria, please visit the Foundation’s website. The ‘Information for Nominators’ pack also includes a list of past winners.
The Awards will be presented on Thursday 15 October 2014 at the Strangers’ Dining Room, NSW Parliament House.
BY THE NUMBERS:
National Pro Bono Aspirational Target
The National Pro Bono Aspirational Target was launched in 2007, and has 39 individual solicitor and barrister signatories and 91 law firm and practice signatories, including 18 of the 20 largest firms in Australia. By signing up to the Target signatories can show the importance of pro bono legal assistance in their practice by aspiring to perform 35 hours of pro bono legal work per year (or, in the case of firms and practices, performing an average of 35 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer per year).
The Centre assists signatories with this aspiration by providing practical advice tailored to a firm’s needs (either one-on-one or in a group setting) and online and offline resources, including the Australian Pro Bono Manual and Pro Bono Partnerships and Models: A Practical Guide to What Works.
The 124 signatories in the 2014 financial year represented 10,915.7 full-time equivalent lawyers. Of these signatories, almost half (46.6%) reported meeting or exceeding the Target of 35 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer per year, performing 365,716 hours of pro bono legal work in total.
For a comprehensive breakdown of these figures, including separate statistics for small and large firms as well as individual solicitors and barristers, please refer to the Seventh Annual Performance Report on the Aspirational Target 2014
For a comparison of the performance of signatory- and non-signatory large firms please refer to pages 70-72 of the National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey of Australian firms with fifty or more lawyers.
Join the NPBRC team: The Centre is recruiting a new Policy Officer
The Centre invites suitable candidates to apply for its currently advertised position of Policy Officer (0.8 FTE, 4 days a week).
The Policy Officer role will involve developing and creating resources that support growth in the amount and quality of pro bono legal work being done, and advocating for reforms that remove barriers to its provision, in consultation with key stakeholders (including government, law firms and community organisations).
This role represents a fantastic opportunity to join a small team of committed professionals, making a significant contribution to increasing access to justice and furthering the public interest by growing the capacity of the Australian legal profession to provide pro bono legal services.For a full job description and selection criteria please Click here.
To discuss the position, contact Leanne Ho or Afton Fife on (02) 9385 7381.
Submit applications by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by close of business Monday 22 June 2015.
For the latest jobs check out Social Justice Opportunities
Social Justice Opportunities (www.sjopps.net.au) is not only a practical guide to the steps you need to take to find a job or volunteer position in the social justice sector. It also includes a listing of current employment and volunteering opportunities, in the ‘Latest Opportunities’ section.
Whether you are a student, new lawyer or anyone else looking to volunteer or work in the sector, you can keep abreast of all the latest opportunities by visiting the site regularly, or by joining more than 1,800 people following @SJOpps on Twitter or more than 1,500 liking us on Facebook.
If you would like to advertise a social justice job or volunteer position on the site, particularly one aimed at law students or new lawyers, please email us for details. It’s easy and free!
Please also contact us with any feedback you have, or let us know how the site has helped you!
Here’s what’s going on in the Twitter feed right now:
PRO BONO IN THE NEWS: May – June 2015
Articles of interest to the pro bono community since Issue 98 of National Pro Bono News (May 2015). Click through to read any news article in full.
Of particular interest is the 2015 TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, released 29 May 2015. To quote the introduction:
“Compiled with data collected from over 140 law firms – both large and small – and representing 49,000 lawyers in 77 countries, the Index illustrates a story of global growth and commitment to pro bono legal assistance. Over the last 12 months, respondents donated 2.08 million hours of free legal support. On average, lawyers invested about one week (43 hours) of their time assisting charities, non-profits, social enterprises, and/or individuals free of charge.”
Eight firms with offices in Australia participated in the survey. The Region Profile of Australia features a profile of pro bono in Australia by John Corker, who provides further information based on the Centre’s Fourth National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey Final Report (December 2014).
No Whyalla wipeout but law firms wary of legal aid future [paywall]
29 May 2015 – Australian Financial Review
The pro bono heads of Allens, Ashurst, Baker + McKenzie, Clayton Utz, DLA Piper Australia, Henry Davis York and Herbert Smith Freehills have sent a joint letter to federal attorney-general George Brandis and his eight state and territory counterparts, expressing concern over federal funding restoration that stops in mid-2017 and urging a plan to add $200 million in legal aid as recommended by the Productivity Commission. Gilbert + Tobin later backed the letter.
Pro Bono in Australia
22 May 2015 – Thomson Reuters Foundation
John Corker profiles the pro bono sector in Australia in relation to the TrustLaw Index for Australia. Australia has developed a strong pro bono culture amongst its larger law firms marked by the strong collegiate culture amongst its pro bono coordinators. Over the long term pro bono growth has always been up.
Law firms sign onto pro bono one-stop-shop
22 May 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
Non-profit organisations can now go to one platform to assess their need for pro bono services and be paired with a professional services firm. Firms have signed onto the New South Wales government advice platform, launched on Wednesday. The platform is designed to connect eligible social sector organisations with pro bono advice, helping not-for-profit organisations explore new ways of funding social services in NSW.
Young lawyers call for compulsory pro bono
21 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Lawyers should be obliged to do pro bono work as a condition of their practising certificates, several Lawyers Weekly 30 under 30 finalists have proposed. Finalists in the pro bono category were asked to share their suggestions for improving the legal profession. DLA Piper senior associate Cindy Lim suggested that lawyers are in a privileged position and therefore had an obligation to give back…
New boutique sets 30pc pro bono target
18 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
A recently launched sole operator has set herself an ambitious target, aiming to spend 30 per cent of her hours on pro bono work. RAL Lawyers was launched last month by Rebecca Lesiw, a former general counsel who worked at Henry Davis York and Herbert Smith Freehills. Ms Lesiw said her practice would offer commercial law, employment law and human resources advisory services, but a third of her time would be devoted to pro bono cases.
Lawyer goes back to school to tackle disadvantage
15 May 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
A Wyndam Legal lawyer will take up a four day a week role at large school in Werribee as part of a two-year donor-funded pilot program. The innovative program aims to assist the families of Grange Secondary School students, who face a range of social and financial issues that frequently prevent students from attending school and have seen teachers increasingly dealing with issues well outside the scope of teaching.
Legal profession walks the walk for justice
14 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Not content to just talk the talk, lawyers and judges across the country hit the pavement last Tuesday to promote the work of pro bono lawyers. As part of Law Week, the Walk for Justice event brought together members of the legal community for an early morning stroll to raise awareness for the contribution of the pro bono sector – which is a lot to achieve before breakfast, in Folklaw’s humble opinion.
Clayton Utz recognised for work with indigenous communities
14 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Clayton Utz has received a Humanitarian Partner Award citation for its pro bono work with the Australian Red Cross in the Northern Territory. The award recognises the firm’s pro bono legal assistance, volunteer and financial support for various Red Cross NT programs for young people.
Pro bono champion recognised
14 May 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
Adam Levine, partner at K&L Gates, is the 2015 recipient of the WA Attorney General’s Community Service Law Award for his commitment to pro bono work. Devoting hundreds of hours to pro bono each year, Levine runs his firm’s hugely successful pro bono practice in Perth, which has an 80 percent participation rate and averages 35 hours of pro bono work per partner per year.
Attorney-General sets cracking pace for Chief Justice
12 May 2015 – ABC Brisbane
We know lawyers can talk under wet cement. But this morning in Brisbane, hundreds of them are giving their mouths a rest and putting their legs into action.They’re on a walk around the city for a worthy cause. It’s the 2015 Queensland Legal Walk.
DLA Piper expands pro bono team
11 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
A senior associate from a global firm will join DLA Piper as it grows its pro bono practice. Catriona Martin will leave Herbert Smith Freehills to take up the role of Asia Pacific pro bono counsel. Ms Martin previously worked in the disputes group at HSF and has extensive experience in public interest litigation, legal education, law reform and implementation of community programs, according to a statement from DLA Piper.
Taking free legal service to new heights
25 May 2015 – The Nation
It is meant to serve the poor. Can the pro-bono legal service introduced by the Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership (LPILP), in conjuction with the government said to have achieved its aim? Stakeholders gathered in Lagos last week to review the initiative, thirty months after the Lagos Public Interest Law Part-nership (LPILP) and the government introduced free legal services for the indigent.
NBA Stamp, Seal Will Enhance Lawyers’ Income
12 May 2015 – Daily Trust
The essence of the NBA scheme that was launched recently was a clearing house for pro bono legal work, as also we have an inbuilt certification scheme, so that when lawyers are doing pro bono legal work they know that there is a need for the NBA to certify that the work indeed meets the criteria for pro bono legal service. Basically all these initiatives are innovations to enhance the practice and the integrity of the process.
Five full-time lawyers help boost legal aid scheme
19 May 2015 – TODAY
For the first time lawyers will be taking up files under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) full-time. In addition to increased government funding, a team of five young lawyers from five firms joined the Law Society’s (LawSoc) Pro Bono Services Office in January to exclusively handle criminal legal aid cases. These pioneering CLAS Fellows, who were seconded or sponsored by the firms, handle up to 30 cases at any time.
Small firms lead way with pro bono efforts
1 June 2015 – Law Society Gazette
Lawyers working in small firms undertook more pro bono hours than colleagues in medium-sized practices, according to a new data index. The TrustLaw Index, published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, shows that lawyers at offices with fewer than 20 staff worked an average of 22.3 hours pro bono. Lawyers at firms with 20-99 fee-earners performed 19.3 hours pro bono.
Arnold & Porter tops Thomson Reuters’ pro bono index – but only 26 firms in England provided data
29 May 2015 – Lawyer 2B
US firm Arnold & Porter has come out best in the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s 2015 index of pro bono, with its lawyers averaging nearly 80 hours each per year. Every single one of Arnold & Porter’s London fee-earners contributed at least ten hours of pro bono work last year. The firm is small in London, with only 40 lawyers, and takes on trainees only every other year. However, just 38 firms with offices in England and Wales responded to the survey and just 26 provided data, the vast majority of those being US-founded.
Reinventing The Law Business: Another Word About Pro Bono
28 May 2015 – Above the Law
I wonder, why does “pro bono” have to be thought of exclusively as work we lawyers do as lawyers? Why does it have to “solely” be, for example, litigation work defending someone on death row or transactional work helping an artist start her art business – worthy endeavors, no doubt?