PRO BONO IN THE NEWS: July – August 2015
Below you can find forty articles of interest to the pro bono community that have been published since our last edition (Issue 100, July 2015). Click through to read any news article in full.
Philanthropy in the LGBTI Community
31 July 2015 – Star Observer
… Corporate philanthropy is also a great way to ensure connections to a community … according to Michael Nightingale, special counsel for law firm Norton Rose Fulbright… “Through [our] Corporate Social Responsibility program, [we encourage] people to contribute to the communities in which they work and live through pro bono work and volunteering, by participating in reconciliation and sustainability activities, and through charitable giving,” he said.
Billable hours to combat sex-trafficking
29 July 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
The International Justice Mission is urging lawyers to give up an hour of their time to combat sex-trafficking in the Philippines. Under the Time for Justice campaign, fee-earning professionals donate one billable hour’s charge-out rate to IJM’s anti-trafficking work … IJM Australia chief executive Jeff Nagle said IJM was proud to be working with the Australian legal profession to support lawyers working on the ground.
Splendour in the Grass sets up free legal tent for punters seeking advice
25 July 2015 – Pedestrian Daily
Punters greeted, or caught out by sniffer dogs on their arrival at [the music festival] this weekend can take solace in professional and pro bono advice, as Lismore’s Randall Legal have set up shop with a free legal tent onsite … Naomi Carter, a solicitor at Randall Legal … said helping young festival-goers early on is imperative, as they generally become “quite distressed with the fact they’ve been charged.” Carter told us that a criminal conviction for personal use can be a particularly strong blight on punters’ futures.
Courting the Commonwealth
21 July 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Firms have always sought the attention of government agencies to gain lucrative work from the sector, but federal reform has given smaller players a way in … [the Legal Services Multi-Use List (LSMUL)] opened the door to smaller firms wanting to take on the big names in town… a robust pro bono program is a criterion for inclusion on the LSMUL, while equal employment opportunities and workplace culture are often taken into consideration.
It’s a wrap! … Making pro bono a career
21 July 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
A winner of the 30 Under 30 Pro Bono category turned a passion for volunteering into a full-time job. At just 29, Kara Cook is the principal solicitor of the Women’s Legal Service, a Brisbane organisation that provides free legal advice to women … Lawyers at major firms can also have a significant impact on the pro bono sector, as proved by the other category winners, Philippa Macaskill from King & Wood Mallesons and James Johnston from Ashurst.
Injustice to Indonesia on the radar for ALA
21 July 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
The Australian Lawyers Alliance will broaden its scope to address federal government violations against Indonesian communities, its new president has announced … In an exclusive interview, Mr Phelps (recently elected by the lobby group) told Lawyers Weekly the ALA will continue to push improving personal injury statutes around Australia, but also intends to embrace international human rights causes.
The Man Behind The Morcombes
20 July 2015 – Australian Story
Peter Boyce is a family man with a strong sense of community, an interest in pro bono work and a fascination with David and Goliath court cases. When he joined forces with Bruce and Denise Morcombe to investigate their son Daniel’s disappearance, his cross-examinations during the coronial inquest played a crucial role in finally bringing the case to a close.
Migrant worker lured to Australia, held captive in restaurant for 16 months
19 July 2015 – Sydney Morning Herald
A man trafficked from India under a sham 457 visa arrangement was held in conditions “akin to slavery” for 16 months, a Sydney court has heard … David Hillard, Pro Bono Partner at Clayton Utz and the lawyer who took on the civil case for Mr Ram’s unpaid wages, said the victim was controlled through intimidation and threats, forced to work and treated as property. Dulo Ram lived, ate and slept in the kitchen of Mand’s Indian Restaurant in Eastwood, NSW, working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, enslaved by the restaurant’s owner.
Want legal advice? Don’t ask Siri: upstart web service opens law access
16 July 2015 – Australian Financial Review
The ambitious aim of the tech start-up, LawAdvisor, is to develop a new mindset where people are attracted to lawyers to help with legal problems as soon as they arise … Under the model, clients can ask a legal question free of charge. A lawyer in the relevant practice area will provide an answer. More than one might answer; others might simply “approve” the answer, giving it a boost in ranking. That answer will then be available to any other who has the same query.
Fifteen years on, Allens pro bono sticks to winning strategy
15 July 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
After taking out the pro bono award at the first Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards, Allens has kept to a tried and true formula. At the first Australian Law Awards ceremony in 2001, Allens precursor Arthur Robinson Hedderwicks won the pro bono category for its partnership with the Fitzroy Legal Service in Melbourne. Today, as submissions are open for the 15th awards, head of pro bono Nicky Friedman said partnerships remain at the core of Allens’ pro bono practice.
HECS-style scheme for lawsuits would improve access to justice, says Professor Stephen Parker
13 July 2015 – The Canberra Times
A HECS-style scheme to fund civil lawsuits could improve access to justice and instill confidence in democracy, a Canberra academic says. Professor Parker, the University of Canberra vice-chancellor, said debate around the access to and quality of justice had stagnated in modern Australia. In a bid to rekindle debate on the issue, Professor Parker, in an opinion piece, has proposed a HECS-style system to fund civil court matters.
Clayton Utz marks 500,000 pro bono hours milestone by funding new Health Justice Partnerships centre [press release]
8 July 2015 – Clayton Utz
Clayton Utz today reaches the significant milestone of providing 500,000 hours of pro bono legal work since their pro bono practice was launched in 1997. This is a first for an Australian law firm, and for any firm outside the US. The Pro Bono practice at Clayton Utz focuses on providing access to justice for individuals at disadvantage: giving people who could not otherwise afford a lawyer the ability to have a voice and pursue their legal rights. Similarly, the Clayton Utz Foundation, established in 2003, provides financial support to charities which address disadvantage and facilitate access to justice.
Myki fines: Julian Burnside QC considers pro-bono legal team to battle on-the-spot ‘standover racket’
3 July 2015 – ABC (774 Melbourne)
High-profile human rights barrister Julian Burnside QC is considering organising a team of pro-bono lawyers to act for public transport users who are fighting Myki fines. He said people with a valid case should be able to contest their fines without feeling pressure to pay a lesser on-the-spot penalty. The on-the-spot ‘penalty fares’ were introduced in August last year after a 12-month trial. Commuters caught without a valid ticket are given the choice of paying $75 immediately or going to court and facing a fine of $223 or more.
Law firms unite for public good [subscription required]
2 July 2015 – Australian Financial Review
They are fierce competitors in a tough legal market, but there is one area where the nation’s largest law firms are collaborative to a degree not seen elsewhere in the world: pro bono, the hallmark of the healthy-conscience lawyer.
Insurance to boost corporate community work [subscription required]
2 July 2015 – Australian Financial Review
Bulging teams of lawyers working in-house at big businesses are expected to boost their pro bono efforts, after the Law Society of NSW revealed that it would extend its insurance cover to corporate and government lawyers.
New Panel To Strengthen Pro Bono Contributions And Support Gender Equality (press release)
1 July 2015 – Victorian Government
Attorney-General Martin Pakula today announced the new Victorian Government Legal Services Panel will include a minimum pro bono contribution from participating private law firms of 10 per cent (up from 5 per cent). The new Panel will strengthen pro bono legal services, support gender equality in the legal profession, and provide new opportunities for small and medium law firms across Victoria.
Crowdfunding to bridge CLC funding gap
1 July 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
As funding cuts hit community legal centres, a graduate lawyer has launched a website to solicit donations for CLCs. On Lawfunder.org, community legal centres are able to post appeals for specific cases without being charged a fee or commission. Graduate lawyer Sean Roche, who built the website with two friends, said CLCs need a free platform to help them overcome funding deficits.
Legal Lifeline for Those in Need
1 July 2015 – Pro Bono Australia
Salvos Legal, an award-winning social enterprise offering ‘last resort’ legal services to those in need was sparked by the generosity of a lone Salvation Army volunteer, writes Nadia Boyce in this week’s Spotlight on Social Enterprise. Salvos Legal, owned and run by the Salvation Army, recently came out on top at the 2015 Social Enterprise Awards, winning the Large Social Enterprise of the Year category from competitors across Australia.
Pro Bono Indonesia Style-Expanding the Foundation of Access to Justice
1 July 2015 – BABSEA CLE
With the ever expanding pro bono movement in Asia gaining amazing traction, it was only a matter of time before Indonesia began to convene formal pro bono awareness raising/training events. The 27-28th of April, 2015, marked the first official national pro bono workshop, which was organized, in Jakarta, by a consortium of organizations, and was supported by the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice Project (AIPJ).
Pro bono ‘part and parcel’ of being a lawyer
30 July 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
For Simpson Grierson partner Michael Wood, pro bono work isn’t optional – it’s imperative. “I see pro bono work as being part and parcel of being a lawyer, not just a ‘nice to have’,” he told Australasian Lawyer. “Volunteering one’s time and skills is part of the glue that binds civil society together. Lawyers have a vital role to play in providing access to all aspects of law for those who aren’t able to afford it.”
Post-LASPO pro bono immigration increase ‘not sustainable’
31 July 2015 – The Law Gazette
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act … removed the majority of immigration matters from the scope of legal aid funding. The ministry/s report… on onward immigration appeals, said ‘there is little evidence that LASPO has adversely affected cases’ … The majority of respondents [however] … believed the increase in the amount of pro bono or reduced rate work undertaken… post-LASPO, is not sustainable.
Pro bono case study from Excellence in Pro Bono winners, DLA Piper
23 July 2015 – The Law Society
DLA Piper UK LLP won the 2014 Excellence in Pro Bono award. Here the firm describes some of its pro bono work. In 2014, the firm donated over 202,500 hours globally of pro bono advice … which makes their contribution to pro bono … one of the largest in the world. DLA Piper has also been recognised as having a leading pro bono programme in the UK … [where] the firm works collaboratively with community partners and charities to address unmet legal need and enhance access to justice for all.
Pro bono: Taking advantage by John Bolch [blog]
20 July 2015 – Stowe Family Law
Amongst a number of recommendations, a report by think tank ResPublica, proposes the introduction of a mandatory “pro-bono obligation as part of the professional obligation of all lawyers”… Under the obligation, lawyers would have to dedicate ten per cent of their “output” to pro bono work, although lawyers on very low incomes, such as those doing legal aid work … only have to give five per cent of their “output”.
Oi lawyers – do more free work, demands think tank
15 July 2015 – Legal Cheek
A leading political thinker-cum-Anglican theologian thinks the legal profession should spend up to 10% of its time on pro bono. A left-of-centre think tank has called on lawyers to do more work for free as the ‘it’s a business’ approach to practice ‘undermines the profession’s vocation and can grievously harm its ethics’.
‘Force lawyers into pro bono’ – think tank
14 July 2015 – The Law Gazette
Lawyers should be obliged to work pro bono to help tackle the crisis in public confidence in the legal profession, a think tank report recommends. The Westminster-based independent group ResPublica says that the teaching, legal and medical professions have all suffered harm to their reputations in recent years. The solution, is for pro bono work to become mandatory for all lawyers as part of their professional obligation.
The award-nominated pro bono scheme that makes students pay to plug the legal aid gap
10 July 2015 – Legal Cheek
A ‘highly commended’ programme charges law students nearly 400 UK pounds in training fees to gain courtroom experience. Law students are forking out almost 400 UK pounds to a Law Society award-shortlisted pro bono scheme to represent clients who are not eligible for legal aid. 53 Legal Limited operates a duty advice scheme (DAS) that offers law students and graduates the opportunity to hone their advocacy skills in court, representing clients on a pro bono basis in matters concerning possession proceedings, mortgages and secured loans.
Top firms wary of Gove’s ‘richest pay’ plan
29 June 2015 – Law Gazette
Suggestions from the Lord Chancellor that the ‘richest’ in the legal system should plug the gap in provision created by cuts to legal aid have met with a cool reception among City lawyers… The Gazette understands that Gove is considering both mandatory pro bono work and a financial levy on City lawyers. ‘All options are open’, a close source said. But City lawyers pointed out that many firms already undertake much pro bono work and that few City lawyers have the skills to replace publicly funded legal aid.
ABA President Brown: And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service to showcase efforts of pro bono lawyers
4 August 2015 – America Bar Association
ABA President Paulette Brown launches a new signature event on Oct. 30, And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service, to recognize the valuable pro bono contributions made by lawyers across the country.
Q&A: How Law Firm Ober|Kaler Takes Pro Bono Support to the Next Level
3 August 2015 – JD Supra
We spoke recently with Ober|Kaler pro bono coordinator Paul Sugar about the law firm’s long-running partnership with Maryland’s community-based program Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law) and the wide range of assistance that Ober|Kaler gives to the program … “We go beyond case support — and this is what, in my view, makes our program out of the ordinary… we consider this a signature pro bono program by our firm.”
Sen. Durbin urges pro bono work, new approaches to closing justice gap
2 August 2015 – America Bar Association
On Aug. 1 at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. shed light on the problem of access to justice in America and challenged members of the legal profession to contribute more to improving the delivery of legal services in the United States. Durbin provided his remarks as part of his keynote address at the 2015 ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon, where he recognized the exemplary volunteer contributions of New York lawyer Daniel L. Brown of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; Maine lawyer Leslie S. Silverstein; Baylor University School of Law; Jones Day; and the United Airlines Legal Department.
The Need for Pro-Bono Programs at Law Firms
31 July 2015 – Thomson Reuters
Lisa Dewey, DLA Piper’s full-time Pro Bono Counsel and Partner since 1999, advises and represents individuals and public interest organizations across the country and around the world. Recently, she spoke about the need for pro bono programs at law firms and DLA Piper’s overall strategy… “law firms should do everything they can to support pro bono work and, when possible, to create an infrastructure that supports those efforts and the projects that have the most local impact.”
Immigrants’ attorneys say they were ‘locked out’ of detention centers after raising concerns
27 July 2015 – Los Angeles Times
Pro bono attorneys working at the country’s two largest immigrant family detention centers in Texas said Monday that they have been “locked out” after they raised concerns last week that officials were forcing the immigrant mothers they represent to sign legal papers without consulting them… On Monday, four national immigration lawyers groups working at the two newer, larger detention centers south of San Antonio in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement demanding it “account for the cascade of due process violations and detrimental practices.”
Signal International Workers Get Pro Bono Help
20 July 2015 – Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs
It’s not often that bankruptcy lawyers who specialize in advising on big-ticket restructurings can apply their expertise in pro bono matters. But when Signal International Inc. filed a […] petition July 12, several firms negotiated a $20 million settlement on behalf of the more-than 200 Indian workers who said the company lured them to work in Mississippi with false promises of U.S. residency and then exploited them after Hurricane Katrina.
Lawyer Who Fostered 29 Kids Has Helped Hundreds More Into Permanent Homes
20 July 2015 – NBC News
Fostering 29 children is no simple feat, but for a lawyer in Kansas, providing a home for more than two dozen kids over the years was the relatively easy part. He’s also helped more than 1,000 kids find permanent homes by using his legal knowledge to help foster parents adopt – for free.
Pro Bono and Law Firm Mergers
16 July 2015 – The PB Eye
Law firm mergers are booming, with new combinations being announced at a record pace … Mergers involve many complicated and moving pieces … and can create anxiety and tension. It is important that pro bono does not get lost in the shuffle and that firms think carefully about how to sync different pro bono cultures, policies, staffing and governance structures, priorities, budgets, projects, and more.
The American Lawyer Names 2015 Global Legal Award Winners
15 July 2015 – America Lawyer
The American Lawyer on Wednesday announced the results of its third annual Global Legal Awards contest … After an Alabama shipbuilder defeated a human trafficking class action, an extraordinary team of 12 firms … filed individual suits. Their first verdict, equating to about $750 million in deterrence on a classwide basis, earns our Global Pro Bono Dispute of the Year. The “lifetime” pro bono honoree is Shearman & Sterling for its support of the Rwanda criminal tribunal.
Pro Bono Win Could Cancel NFL Team’s Marks
10 July 2015 – Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs
In an emphatic decision that marks a cultural moment, a federal court in Virginia said the Washington Redskins’ trademarks are disparaging to Native Americans and the registrations should be cancelled. The representation of five Native American individuals in the case was handled pro bono by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, according to Wilson Brown, a partner and the firm’s pro bono coordinator.
Ropes & Gray to Use Class Action Fees for Pro Bono Work
8 July 2015 – Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs
Ropes & Gray LLP acted on a pro bono basis as co-counsel in a class action … Now that the case has settled, the firm will receive a share of $6.5 million in fees. Rather than adding its portion to its coffers, however, the firm plans to use the proceeds on other pro bono matters. The settlement fees don’t come close to approximating those amassed … more than 30,000 hours on the case since it was filed in 2012, the firm said in the statement.
Green Pro Bono goes international
6 July 2015 – The Boston Globe
Boston attorney Nancy Reiner believes many of her colleagues, despite their sometimes rapacious reputations, are idealists at heart … That’s why she created Green Pro Bono, which finds free legal help for nonprofits and entrepreneurs working to fight climate change. Since it was founded in 2009, the all-volunteer organization, headquartered in Cambridge, has done legal match-making for 80 organizations, mostly in New England but also nationwide. Now Green Pro Bono is going international.
Large Firms Lag in Support For Legal Aid to Poor [requires subscription]
6 July 2015 – National Law Journal
An analysis by NLJ affiliate The American Lawyer suggests that the most generous firms contribute little more than one-tenth of 1 percent of their gross revenue to groups that provide basic legal services for the poor, and many fall far below that amount.
Pro Bono Lawyers Win Legal Permanent Residence for Mother of Air Force Sergeant
1 July 2015 – Volunteers of Legal Service
Just in time for the patriotic celebrations taking place across the country, comes this story about how pro bono lawyers from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson won legal permanent residence for Zoila, the mother of a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Zoila encountered the Fried Frank lawyers at PS 146, where the firm runs a legal clinic through VOLS’ School-based Children’s Project.
Survey: Pro Bono Hours Dip Slightly at Am Law 200 Firms [subscription required]
29 June 2015 – American Lawyer
For the second consecutive year, Chicago’s Jenner & Block tops The American Lawyer’s survey of U.S. pro bono legal work and Washington, D.C.’s Arnold & Porter is second, though the business uptick at Am Law 200 firms last year may be reducing pro bono hours generally … Arnold & Porter’s average was 126.7, down from 139.5. Paul Hastings was in third place, replacing Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in that spot.
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