Issue 76: November 2012
Welcome to a special edition of the National Pro Bono News devoted to highlighting pro bono partnerships. Our regular wrap-up of news can be found at the end of the issue.
As always, we welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas – please email [email protected].
Congratulations to Kingsford Legal Centre and Herbert Smith Freehills on winning the Pro Bono Partnership Award 2012 at the NSW Justice Awards on 31 October 2012. Their partnership of over 20 years was part of the beginning of Australian law firms having a much greater engagement with community legal centres and has modelled pro bono services to many future generations of lawyers. Read more below.
Associate Professor Anna Cody, Kingsford Legal Centre, UNSW, and Annette Bain, Pro Bono Counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills receive the award from John Corker, Director, National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
The Centre is proud to sponsor this Award and this special edition highlights the work of all nominees as the purpose of the award is to celebrate and draw attention to innovation in effective pro bono relationships.
There are many productive and longstanding CLC/law firm partnerships that exist in across Australia but we are not in a position to list them all here but here is a description of the six nominees for the Pro Bono Partnerhip Award this year.
The partnership between Amnesty International Australia and DLA Piper
For more than five years, DLA Piper has helped ensure Amnesty International Australia’s governance, strategy, policy and operations are conducted based on robust legal advice thus allowing Amnesty to focus on its mission of ending systemic injustice around the world. Most of this work has been done through the Sydney office of Amnesty and includes providing secondees, and advice on corporate matters, tax, wills and bequests, employment matters and contracts, but also work on particular court appeals and projects, merits advice, freedom of speech and strategic litigation.
The partnership between the Arts Law Centre and the Australian Government Solicitor
The Australian Government Solicitor leads the way in the provision of pro bono services by government lawyers with 25% of its lawyers participating in their pro bono contribution this year. Since 2009, AGS has provided highly experienced lawyers on secondment to the Arts Law Centre, which supplements the Arts Law Centre with an additional staff member for their telephone legal advice, and document review service. AGS has also conducted seminars on relevant issues for clients of the Arts Law Centre and undertaken reviews of ALC’s sample agreements for artists.
The partnership between the Cancer Council Legal Referral Service and its many lawyer and law firm partners
The Cancer Council Legal Referral Service has had astonishing growth from being a six-month pilot project with four law firms in March 2010, to its present network of 144 law firm, sole practitioner and in-house counsel partners many of these based in regional NSW. Through this network the Service is able to assist about 1000 clients per year. This is a great example of a medical-legal alliance that uniquely integrates health, counselling and legal assistance, so that chronically ill patients can receive assistance where and when it is needed
The partnership between the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery program regional coordinators in the South Coast, Far West, Central West and Mid North Coast of NSW and Ashurst Australia.
Ashurst has worked with the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery program, an initiative of NSW Legal Aid, in regional NSW since its inception in 2009. With the help of Ashurst, the program’s regional coordinators are better able to respond to the legal needs of geographically isolated and remote communities – particularly Aboriginal communities. Ashurst lawyers have shown a generous willingness to travel to remote and regional areas of NSW to provide case work assistance and advice, free community legal education sessions and on-site legal services including successful clinics drafting wills, powers of attorney and guardianship documents which have been particularly appreciated in a number of Indigenous communities.
The partnership between Kingsford Legal Centre and Herbert Smith Freehills
For over 20 years, Freehills has provided Kingsford Legal Centre (KLC) with a full-time secondee solicitor every six months, as well as providing high-level advocacy and administrative support.
The many solicitors seconded to KLC over this time have participated in all areas of KLC’s service including advice and casework, community legal education and law reform and policy work. The relationship has evolved and adapted over time. Secondees have organised innovative service delivery models such as a ‘pop up clinic’ created on a disadvantaged housing estate. But importantly the secondees have provided a role model for, and mentoring to, the many law students who work at KLC as part of the UNSW clinical legal education program. Through this many students have understood the importance of a life-long commitment to pro bono legal work and gone on in their careers to committing to improving the justice system and to act pro bono for those in need.
The partnership between Offshore Asylum Seeker Project and its significant number of barrister, law firm and other partners (124 in all)
The Project started 18 months ago as a result of the increased demand from asylum seekers for advice following the M61 High Court decision that returned judicial review rights to offshore asylum seekers for adverse refugee status assessments.
The project responded to an urgent and large unmet need and uniquely facilitated 318 requests for assistance over a 12 month period with a significant number of cases being remitted back to the decision maker by the Federal Magistrates Court after a finding of jurisdictional error.
This project involved close collaboration between Legal Aid NSW, the NSW Law Society, Members of the NSW bar, migration support groups and solicitors from private law firms, pivotally coordinated by PILCH NSW, who either worked together, or to their strengths, on devising strategy, providing training, making initial assessments of the reviewability of administrative decisions, providing legal advice to clients often far away in detention centres, and providing legal representation in appropriate cases.
Further Examples and Contact Information
Further examples of pro bono partnerships can be found amongst previous winners and nominees of this award as well as amongst recent National Pro News stories such as the partnership between Clayton Utz, the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and PILCH (VIC) and the partnership between Allens Linklaters, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre and various barristers.
Law firms or community legal centres wanting to develop partnerships should talk to the pro bono clearing house in their State or Territory and or to their State Association of Community Legal Centres. The Federation of Community Legal Centres in Victoria has a dedicated staff member (Claudia Fatone) to help firms and Centres form partnerships. An article about the Victorian Community Law Partnerships scheme can be found at page 83 of the Jan-Feb 2012 edition of the Law Institute Journal.
On 1 November 2012 the National Association of Community Legal Centres released the results of their survey of Community Legal Centres and Pro Bono Partnerships that indicated a contribution of over 50,000 hours being made to 106 CLCs nationally by law firms in the past year.
The survey indicated that the pro bono contribution of firms had increased the reach of CLCs and their specialist capacity through providing direct legal services to CLC clients and centres, assisting with publications, in governance and management, providing venues and catering, administrative support and in fundraising. The Centre undertook some further analysis of this data and produced a media release “One hour’s investement by CLCs retruns a day’s pro bono work” found here.
The recent NPBRC large firm survey indicated that 15 out of 51 firms with more than 50 lawyers (29%) had provided a lawyer on secondment to a CLC in the past year, a strong indicator of a partnership.
Check out Social Justice Opportunities 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 jobs and volunteering opportunities around the country. Currently there are more than twenty positions listed.
Articles of interest to the pro bono community from October to November 2012. Click through to read any news article in full.
9 November 2012 – The Australian
9 November 2012 – The Australian
9 November 2012 – The Law Society Gazette
6 November 2012 – The Guardian
5 November 2012 – The Am Law Daily
5 November 2012 – TrustLaw
2 November 2012 – Legal Week
2 November 2012 – Global Legal Post
1 November 2012 – Today Online
25 October 2012 – Lawyer Watch
25 October 2012 – The Law Society Gazette