Dan Creasey, Head of Pro Bono and Community Impact at King & Wood Mallesons, spoke about the link between legal pro bono work and corporate social responsibility, the Sustainable Development Goals and UN Global Compact. He highlighted the importance of creating a narrative and ‘whole of organisation’ approach to pro bono and community engagement initiatives and of keeping pro bono work relevant.
Attendees at the event heard from a panel of speakers discussing legal pro bono work for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), assisting asylum seekers. RACS was represented by Alison Ryan, Senior Solicitor, who described how RACS engages and manages pro bono legal assistance and the support it provides to pro bono lawyers. Gemma Livingston, National Pro Bono Coordinator from Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) explained how NRF has managed its RACS clinics, including its partnerships with both National Australia Bank and Carnival Australia in support of RACS, noting that:
“The partnerships worked so well because everyone had the same goal, so the approach was very collaborative”.
National Australia Bank was represented by Ailsa Bailey, Senior Legal Counsel, Corporate & Institutional Banking, Commercial Services and Carnival Australia by Lauren Miller, General Counsel. Both Ailsa and Lauren discussed how their teams’ participation in this pro bono work developed and how it is managed, and described the benefits to the lawyers involved and to their organisations. About use of existing skills, Lauren said:
“Lawyers can be concerned that they don’t have the relevant skills. But skills such as listening effectively, identifying relevant facts and putting the facts into a logical order are skills all lawyers have. Even just understanding client confidentiality and understanding how to relate to clients at a professional level takes lawyers a long way.”
Lauren also stressed the importance of starting, as opposed to waiting, until conditions seem perfect for doing pro bono work.
Ailsa noted the importance of having pro bono ‘champions’ within an organisation, who are senior and willing to help build support for legal pro bono.