Issue 91: August 2014
Welcome to the August 2014 edition of National Pro Bono News, from the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
We welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas – please email [email protected].
In this edition, read about:
This year’s National CLCs Conference was held against the glorious backdrop of the MacDonnell ranges in Alice Springs. Consistent with its location, there were a number of sessions discussing the legal needs of Aboriginal people concerning preventative detention, the interrelationship of wellbeing, justice and human rights for Aboriginal people, civil justice, Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, cultural competency, and the justice reinvestment initiatives in the Northern Territory. The legal need remains considerable.
Pro bono lawyers from Gilbert + Tobin, Ashurst, Clayton Utz, and DLA Piper attended the conference and were involved in the session “Leveraging pro bono to enrich your Centre’s services”, together with Jacqui Swinburne, Acting CEO, Redfern Legal Centre and Fiona McLeay, CEO, Justice Connect. The session was chaired by John Corker, Director of the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (NPBRC). Reflecting on the fact that 92 CLCs (60.2%) reported having a pro bono partnership in the first census of CLCs around Australia in 2013, discussion was directed towards making more strategic use of pro bono reflecting an increased maturity and understanding of the way that pro bono operates in Australia.
The spirit of the CLC worker’s determination to strive against unfairness and injustice was evident throughout the conference and their innovative talents were displayed through a series of TED-inspired talks that contained plenty of “ideas worth spreading”.
Talks focused on…
The people’s choice award went to Dan Stubbs from Inner City Legal Centre for his work in designing and developing a smart phone app for sex workers about employment rights and records. Dan also chaired an inspiring plenary titled, “Hey, whose disability is it anyway?”
Having seen the calibre of this year’s speakers, we look forward to more TED-inspired talks in 2015!
Similarly, the Legal Aid NSW Civil Law Conference held in Sydney from 21-22 August 2014 had a worthwhile session titled, “Should I refer it to pro bono?” presented by John Corker, Director of the NPBRC. Assisted by solicitors Laura Lombardo from Ashurst, and Hai-Van Nguyen from Clayton Utz, an interactive discussion ensued that identified the possible referral pathways in NSW and discussed the relevant factors involved in making a decision to seek referral. These included the time it might take, the type of matter/area of law, the best referral pathway and the possibility of particular law firms having a conflict.
The discussion revealed an existing flow of civil law matters from Legal Aid NSW finding a home within the pro bono practice of some firms. The session also touched on other legal aid/pro bono connections such as the contributions made by pro bono firms to the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery program, the invitation to pro bono lawyers from Legal Aid to attend legal aid training sessions, and the challenges involved in forming pro bono partnerships in relation to specific projects.
Over a thousand hours of pro bono work were performed in the latest reporting period by in-house lawyers covered under the National Pro Bono PI Insurance Scheme, with 1,053.50 hours reported in the six month period from 1 January to 30 June 2014. This is nearly double the 545.6 hours reported in the same period last year.
From 1 January to 30 June 2014, 84 lawyers and 9 paralegals undertook 45 projects under the scheme, compared with the same period last year, in which 37 lawyers undertook 26 projects. The scheme, which was launched in 2009 to remove an obstacle to in-house lawyers wanting to do pro bono work, has grown significantly over the past five years, with the first register reporting 82 hours of pro bono work undertaken by five lawyers.
The report for the most recent period includes new applications from a number of lawyers in the South Australian Crown Solicitor’s Office, Telstra and the National Australia Bank.
If you’re an in-house lawyer interested in applying for coverage, please see the National Pro Bono PI Insurance Scheme page. For a full list of projects please refer to the Register, and for more information see the previous story on the insurance scheme featured in the July 2011 edition of the National Pro Bono News.
Justice Connect has launched a new Self Representation Service (Service) in Sydney and Melbourne to support self-represented litigants in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court. The Service was launched on 17 August 2014, following the successes of QPILCH’s SRL schemes in a number of courts in Queensland including a pilot scheme in the Federal Court started in August 2012, and JusticeNet SA’s similar service launched in September 2013 in the Supreme Court of South Australia, now also in the Federal Court.
This federally funded program (4 years) will initially be directed towards supporting the self-represented in bankruptcy proceedings, which has been identified as one of the areas of greatest need, and then addressing Fair Work matters from late 2014 expanding later on to cover a broader range of matters. Volunteer lawyers at Justice Connect member firms will be able to assist in ensuring these litigants have the correct information to appear in court, properly drafted documents and forms, advice on options for alternative dispute resolution and explanations of court processes based on discrete one hour appointments. Justice Connect will expand the scheme, possibly with a face to face service in the ACT, and through a phone and/or video service in Tasmania.
For further information contact the manager of the service, Joanna Mansfield at Justice Connect.
Coordinated by the Law Access Pro Bono Referral Service at the Law Society of Western Australia, a number of barristers, solicitors, migration agents, law graduates and students have established a new network for lawyers interested in assisting asylum seekers with applications for judicial review to the Federal Circuit Court. The network initiative is a partnership with the community legal centre, CASE for refugees who provide assistance to asylum seekers and family reunion migration advice.
Members of the WA profession have been appearing pro bono in a number of judicial review matters with some success however there is currently significant unmet demand for legal assistance for asylum seekers.
In addition to current applications for judicial review by applicants in detention or in the community, the network estimates that between 1500-2000 asylum seekers currently on bridging visas in the Western Australian community who arrived post August 2012 will soon have their applications for asylum processed, leading to an upsurge in demand for assistance with judicial review.
The network of about 40 people is in a capacity building phase, having had its first meeting at the end of July with its next meeting due in October, and a training session for interested lawyers organised for early September.
The network seeks to enable:
Further information about the network can be obtained from Executive Manager, Community Services, Dominique Hansen, Law Society of Western Australia at [email protected].
Students undertaking their Practical Legal Training (PLT) at community legal centres (including through the National Association of Community Legal Centres’ program offering placements in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia) is a growing trend, providing benefits to both the students and the centres but opportunities for placements is becoming increasingly competitive.
The College of Law (College) is now assessing interest in a proposed scheme to link up PLT students with existing or new pro bono projects. Traditionally insurance has been cited as a barrier to PLT student involvement in law firm pro bono projects. This would be addressed as the College is contemplating arranging appropriate insurance on the understanding that students would not be employees of the placement organisation.
Why is the College proposing this scheme? It is aware that:
College of Law PLT students are introduced to pro bono practice as part of their PLT studies, supported by the College’s PLT Course materials which include the practice paper Pro Bono Practice, written and kept current by the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
The College has developed an alternative work experience model, which allows students who study an additional clinical experience module to complete their work experience in 25 rather than the traditional 75 days. Unpaid 25 day PLT placements (which can be completed in one or more blocks, full or part time) fall within the Fair Work Ombudsman’s guidelines on vocational placements.
If you have ideas as to how PLT students might be involved in new or existing pro bono projects and are interested in discussing the possibilities, then please contact Greg Dwyer by email at [email protected].
This week the Centre is delighted to welcome Afton Fife as our new Policy Officer.
Afton comes to us after nearly ten years with international law firm Ashurst Australia. While at Ashurst, Afton worked as a Senior Associate in the national Tax Team and was a major contributor to the firm’s world class pro bono program. Afton has assisted countless not-for-profit organisations and individuals with a variety of tax and non-tax related legal advice.
Afton graduated with a B Com (Accounting)/LLB from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2005. Her early passion for social justice continued throughout her time at UNSW where she studied a number of Human Rights law electives. Following her time at UNSW Afton worked in Chicago for a not-for-profit organisation called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.
Afton’s interest in access to justice and her passion for the effective delivery of pro bono services make her a welcome addition to the Centre’s team.
The UQ Pro Bono Centre, located at the University of Queensland’s TC Beirne School of Law, is conducting research into the motivations, attitudes and values of legal practitioners who undertake pro bono work. The study aims to provide a deeper insight into the reasons why lawyers engage in pro bono work.
Through this research the UQ Pro Bono Centre hopes to discover what the legal community perceives ‘pro bono’ to be: what activities are legitimately included in pro bono legal work, and what is excluded. It is also hoped that the findings of the study will assist legal organisations to better understand what motivates lawyers to undertake pro bono work, which will likely improve the design and modelling of services that are reliant on pro bono assistance.
The UQ Pro Bono Centre is currently seeking lawyers who participate in pro bono work to volunteer for a short telephone interview. The telephone interview will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, during which participants will be asked a series of questions about their involvement in pro bono work, their motivations for undertaking pro bono work and their perceptions of pro bono work. All interview responses will be recorded anonymously, and the names of any people mentioned in the interview will not appear in any subsequent results of the study, which are likely to be published in future.
If you are willing to participate in a telephone interview, please contact Monica Taylor by email at [email protected] or on (07) 3346 9351. The research team will then contact you to arrange an interview time. Interviews will be conducted primarily on Tuesday afternoons, from 1pm to 5pm.
Ashurst is seeking a global pro bono partner to manage its global pro bono program. This program will operate in all Ashurst offices throughout the world. Ashurst’s aim is for pro bono to be an established part of the practice of all lawyers within the firm. There is a preference for the role to be based in Australia, but this is not essential.
The successful candidate needs to have the qualities and capabilities expected of all partners, and the vision, enthusiasm, leadership and consensus building skills to drive forward Ashurst’s global pro bono program. The Global Pro Bono Partner will report to the Managing Partner.
This is a unique and exciting opportunity for the right person.
Please contact Peter Stapleton by email at [email protected] or on 02 9258 6239 if you are interested in applying for this position.
Check out Social Justice Opportunities (www.sjopps.net.au) for information on finding a job or volunteering in the social justice sector. The website includes a ‘Latest Opportunities’ section, which provides a list of current employment and volunteering opportunities around the country- as of today, there are more than thirty jobs, PLT placements and internships listed.
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!
Here’s what’s going on in the Twitter feed right now:
Articles of interest to the pro bono community from July to August 2014. Click through to read any news article in full.
20 August 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
19 August 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
15 August 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
Salvos Legal has been lauded for its innovative firm model that engenders a spirit of collaboration and a sense of social justice among its lawyers. The four-year-old firm won the coveted Law Firm of the Year Award, proudly sponsored by CTPartners, in the face of tough competition from global firms Herbert Smith Freehills and Squire Patton Boggs, and national firms Gilbert + Tobin, Hall & Wilcox and Maurice Blackburn.
11 August 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
11 August 2014 – The Age
8 August 2014 – The Australian
7 August 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
1 August 2014 – The Australian
1 August 2014 – Legal Week (UK)
1 August 2014 – ABC News
30 July 2014 – Australasian Lawyer
23 July 2014 – Clayton Utz
1 August 2014 – Radio Free Asia
10 August 2014 – National Mirror
31 July 2014 – New Vision
23 July 2014 – Legal Week
15 August 2014 – The Global Legal Post
7 August 2014 – The Daily Mail
6 August 2014 – Reuters
1 August 2014 – Bloomberg Businessweek
1 August 2014 – NBC Los Angeles
27 July 2014 – Dallas Morning News