Welcome to the June 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 month sees Herbert Smith Freehills and Holding Redlich become signatories to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target. These two well-known firms, both with outstanding pro bono practices, take the number of Australian lawyers covered by the Target to nearly 12,000.
To read the Statement of Principles for the Target and to sign-up online click here.
See here for a full list of Target Signatories.
The Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) is an independent, Australian non-government organisation (NGO) providing education in human rights advocacy. It was established at the University of NSW in 1989 and has trained over 2200 human rights defenders from more than 30 countries. Over the past two years through a partnership with the Sydney office of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, it has achieved much.
DTP has been working with NGOs in Nepal for some time to address the human rights abuses and harms associated with the significant outflow of Nepalese migrant workers particularly to Malaysia and the Middle East. Treatment of Nepalese migrant workers has come under great scrutiny in the lead up to the soccer World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022 and has been likened to modern day slavery. Last year, in support of DTP’s on-the-ground work in Nepal, Corrs produced a detailed analysis of the local and international legal framework that affects labour migration out of Nepal and created templates for use by NGOs in Nepal to better document and report human rights abuses – including cases of forced labour and deaths in destination countries.
These templates were used recently by DTP participants to take a case to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants which resulted in a successful intervention by the Special Rapporteur and the return to their families in Nepal of 17 stranded migrants in Saudi Arabia, where they were in a situation of forced labour and had not been paid their wages.
Corrs has also recently helped the DTP to prepare to meet all the requirements necessary to be accredited under the Australian NGO Cooperation Program, something that DTP would not have been able to do on its own. This has been achieved through helping DTP develop and review its policies and systems, and address each of the accreditation criteria. This is a rigorous front-end risk assessment and management process which makes DTP eligible for recurrent aid funding through the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. DTP was keen to access this funding to put its work for human rights in the Asia-Pacific region on a firmer financial footing, and was delighted to be notified on 23 June that its application had been successful.
Director of the DTP, Patrick Earle, said, “The relationship just developed from a conversation at an event about pro bono legal work, and Corrs were already familiar with some of our work. The relationship has grown naturally as we have got to know each other better through a series of meetings and discussions about the needs we have as a small overstretched organisation and the needs of those we work for. It has led to a really significant outcome for DTP as an organisation – and more importantly for organisations and individuals in Nepal working on what are very pressing and urgent issues. The professionalism and dedication of Corrs Special Counsel, Michael do Rozario has been exceptional and I thank him and his team heartily for their support.”
Participants at the DTP South Asia regional program on the rights of migrant workers, Kathmandu, Nepal, September 2013.
|The practising certificate and PI insurance situation for in-house counsel (both government and corporate) who wish to undertake pro bono legal work unfortunately still varies considerably from State to State in Australia and can be quite complex. This new resource, housed on the Centre’s website, details the situation in each State and Territory of Australia.
However, the situation in each state and territory is still unique. This table details the legislative and policy instruments that underpin the current law and practice, and cost (if any) of PI insurance that may be available in each jurisdiction for in-house counsel who wish to undertake pro bono legal work. It is intended that this resource will be useful to any individual corporate or government lawyer or corporation’s legal team that is considering undertaking pro bono legal work. The Centre and pro bono clearing houses (Justice Connect, QPILCH and Justice NetSA) welcome inquiries from any corporate and government lawyers or teams who wish to get involved.
More information is available on the In-House Lawyers page on the Centre’s website.
The need for a legislated right to a costs order in a pro bono matter and the ultimate destination of the costs recovered has again arisen as an issue in Australia in the context of the PC report on Access to Justice. It is therefore timely to look at the outcomes of the UK system where, under section 194 of the UK Legal Services Act 2007, all “civil courts” have been empowered since 2008 to make “pro bono costs orders” with the proceeds being payable to a prescribed charity for distribution by way of grants to support pro bono legal assistance.
The prescribed charity is the Access to Justice Foundation, incorporated in October 2008. It receives income other than the proceeds of pro bono costs orders, notably unclaimed client accounts, donations and grants.
Foundation for the years ending 31 December 2011-2013 (in GBP)
*consists of funds obtained from unclaimed client accounts, donations and grants.
It is still too early in the life of this scheme to be able to fully evaluate its success but it can be observed that the total amount of the grants (made to facilitate greater pro bono service delivery) made by the Foundation have increased each year. Whilst the amounts of pro bono costs orders have wavered up and down, the Foundation has been successful in attracting income from sources other than pro bono costs orders and thus increase its total revenue each year. The support costs in 2013 were 28.5% of total revenue.
The Centre recently submitted to the Productivity Commission that a similar pro bono costs orders scheme was not appropriate in Australia due to the infrequency of such costs orders and the potential cost of administration. The Centre has suggested the development of a self-regulatory protocol to which law firms would subscribe. This would formalise what is already a common practice of using costs recovered to offer to pay counsel’s fees, and the remainder being directed back into the firm’s pro bono practice, or donated to a charity or community organisation of choice.
Building on the successful Inaugural and 2nd Southeast Asia/Asia Pro Bono Conferences (2012 Lao PDR & 2013 Vietnam) which created opportunities for lawyers, legal professionals, law firms, academics, civil society organizations and many others, to network with potential pro bono partners and develop initiatives to meet the unmet legal needs in the region, this year’s Conference will be held in Singapore from October 2-4, 2014.
The Conference’s relevant and timely theme is “Creating vibrant pro bono ecosystems to strengthen access to justice.” As in the past, this event will model the strengths and benefits created through both national and cross-border collaborations and will be organized by BABSEA CLE, The Law Society of Singapore, BABSEA CLE Singapore and supported by the National University of Singapore.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre:
On 4 June 2014 at Artspace in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, the Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) held their annual Pro Bono Awards, recognising the enormous contribution that volunteers from across the country make to Arts Law. Six out of 29 award winners were in-house counsel.
Executive Director of Arts Law, Robyn Ayres said that “It is an incredibly difficult task to choose the winners as we have about 240 lawyers on the pro bono panel who help us in all sorts of ways – providing telephone advice, the document review service, delivering education to artists, assisting with law reform work, and helping us to put in place strategic initiatives to benefit the arts community.”
“We also receive other types of pro bono services such as marketing, business and advertising advice, assistance with fund-raising events and our fantastic team of legal volunteers, both students, interns, lawyers and our secondees who help us at the Arts Law offices on a daily basis.”
Robyn Ayres, Executive Director of the Arts Law Centre of Australia, with artist Lotte Smith. Photo by Devris Hasan ©
The winners of the Arts Law Pro bono Awards for 2013 were:
Jonathan Adamopoulos (Allens/Linklaters), Claudia Adams (Herbert Smith Freehills), Charles Alexander (Minter Ellison), Lishan Ang (Frederick Jordan Chambers), Stephen Boyle (Stephen Boyle Media and Entertainment Law), Elizabeth Burrows (Influence Legal), Mandy Chapman (Beyond International Ltd), Christopher Chow (Chris Chow Creative Legal), Rob Clark (10th Floor Chambers), Stephen Digby (Digby Law), Katherine Giles (ABC Legal Services), Rob Glass (Media Arts Lawyers), Melissa Goode (Herbert Smith Freehills), Chris Govey (Allens/Linklaters), Monique Hennessy (Arts Law Centre of Australia), Ishan Karunanayake (Ministry of Sound Australia), Ben Kay (Kay & Hughes), John MacPhail (Finlaysons), Grant McAvaney (ABC Legal Services), Moira McKenzie (GI & Sanicki Lawyers), Renu Menon (Gadens), Julie Robb (Banki Haddock Fiora), Ian Robertson (Holding Redlich), Michael Tucak (Creative Legal), Mandy van den Elshout (ABC Legal Services), Caroline Verge (Verge Whitford and Co), Marcus Walkom (Media Arts Lawyers), Tracey Wren (Orica Australia) and Clare Young (Allens/Linklaters).
(L-R) Monique Hennessy, Paul Leadon, Annabel Crabb, Jeremey Storer and Grant McAveny. Photo by Devris Hasan ©
Nominations for the 2014 Justice Awards, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, close on Monday 30 June 2014.
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. The Pro Bono Partnership Award judging panel is seeking nominations that address the following selection criteria, in order of importance:
What aspects of the relationship and the assistance provided are innovative, unique or exceptional? For example, in relation to:
♦ the forms of pro bono assistance provided, or
♦ reaching a particular community, or
♦ meeting a legal need that would not otherwise have been met, or
To what extent has the partnership led to the better delivery of services to members of the community?
How long has the partnership been in place?
Please note that two referees are required who can demonstrate/comment on the partnership.
The Awards will be presented on 29 October 2014 at the Strangers’ Dining Room, NSW Parliament House. This year the Law and Justice Address will be delivered by Dr Rhonda Galbally AO.