Below you can find articles of interest to the pro bono community that have been published since our last edition. Click through to read any news article in full.
You can also follow the latest news in pro bono from Australia and around the world by following the Centre on Twitter: @AusPBC
- Australian Robert Langdon pardoned by Afghanistan’s president after seven years in jail for murder
10 August 2016 – news.com.au
A former Australian soldier originally sentenced to death for murdering a colleague which was later commuted to 20 years in jail in Afghanistan, has been released after a presidential pardon… Lawyer Kimberly Motley, who took on Langdon’s case pro bono in 2013, said “the case was mishandled internally and externally within the Afghan legal system,” from the beginning in 2009.
- Open a File for Pro Bono Matters Too
8 August 2016 – Slaw
Pro bono work is something nearly every lawyer does occasionally. Here’s one practical tip for avoiding some pro bono pitfalls: open a file for every matter you handle … treat the work like you would any other work. Run a conflicts check; diarize deadlines; document the client’s instructions, your advice and the steps you take; and docket your time (even if you won’t bill it).
- Global law firm records 115,000 pro bono hours
3 August 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
Hogan Lovells employees donated more than 115,000 hours in 2015, the firm’s annual global Pro Bono Practice report reveals … “The annual pro bono report is a reflection of how we make a difference through pro bono activities, community investment, and social justice,” said T. Clark Weymouth, pro bono partner at Hogan Lovells. “Giving back to the community is an integral part of who we are as a firm.”
- Australia’s first tiny home project approved for NSW homeless [media release]
2 August 2016 – Tiny Homes Foundation
Tiny Homes Foundation (THF) has received DA approval to build what is believed to be Australia’s first tiny house project for homeless women, men, youth and the elderly. The pilot project next to Gosford Hospital on the NSW Central Coast will consist of four tiny homes, a common lounge, a common laundry/workshop and community vegetable gardens. THF has collaborated with like minded partners who are leading practitioners within their field, such as Clayton Utz…
- What is best practice pro bono? [members] [PDF version]
1 August 2016 – Law Society Journal
Pro bono is a small but important element in addressing unmet legal needs, and the Australian Pro Bono Centre has released a new guide to best practice to help law firms improve the quality and quantity of their pro bono programs.
- Wollongong lawyer up for national award
31 July 2016 – Illawarra Mercury
A Wollongong lawyer who is working to set up a pro-bono advice service for refugees in the Illawarra has been named a finalist in the 2016 Australian Law Awards … In her submission for the award Ms Griffiths said that to complete a client’s claim “and have them smile and thank you for your work, often after months/years of anguish, is my greatest achievement”.
- Pro Bono in Australia
25 July 2016 – Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Australia has just been through a federal election and strong campaigns, “Legal Aid Matters” and “Fund Equal Justice” … supported by an open letter published in The Australian newspaper by leaders of pro bono practices at Australian law firms … The pro bono leaders noted that their firms have little or no pro bono capacity to assist with family law, criminal law, immigration or with clients in regional Australia, and that the delivery of many pro bono services for low-income and disadvantaged people by the private legal profession requires a partnership or collaboration with legal assistance services.
- Lawyer leaves global for new pro bono management job
19 July 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
Sophie McNamara has left her position as pro bono senior associate with global firm Ashurst to take on a managerial role for the Gadens pro bono program. She moved from Sydney to Melbourne for her new role. Ms McNamara was named among Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence in the ‘Young Leaders’ category in 2015. Her pro bono work has assisted indigenous people, migrants and people living with mental illness and disability.
- Australian Law Awards finalists revealed
18 July 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
The contenders for Australia’s premier legal awards have been announced. The nominations for Pro Bono Program of the Year are Ashurst, Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers, Colin Biggers & Paisley, DLA Piper, Gilbert + Tobin, Herbert Smith Freehills, International Justice Mission Australia, King & Wood Mallesons, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Robina Community Legal Centre Inc.
- Firms turn spotlight on indigenous culture
15 July 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
Firms have celebrated Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a special curation of social, academic and cultural events for NAIDOC week, including Corrs Chambers Westgarth and DLA Piper. Global firm DLA Piper used NAIDOC week as an opportunity to release a new action plan for reconciliation. DLA launched its first action plan in 2012 and since that time has delivered pro bono legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people worth more than $1.5 million.
- Asylum seeker in Queensland to get free legal clinic
15 July 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
Salvos Legal Humanitarian is partnering with MDA Ltd to launch a legal clinic which will provide unrepresented asylum seekers in Queensland with free legal services. According to the pro-bono law firm, there are approximately 3,000 asylum seekers in the state who require legal help. “By partnering with MDA to create a new service, we can attempt to address the overwhelming demand for legal assistance and support people seeking asylum who may otherwise go unrepresented,” said Charlotte Yellowlees, Salvos Legal Humanitarian associate.
- Former HSF pro bono head joins DLA Piper
8 July 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
Annette Bain has been appointed pro bono counsel at DLA Piper in Hong Kong. She began her pro bono career 20 years ago at NSW Women’s Legal Services before joining the Freehills Foundation and then heading the pro bono team at Herbert Smith Freehills.
- Queensland Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says she’s not afraid of hard work [requires subscription]
7 July 2016 – Courier Mail
She hails from the home of our longest-serving premier and has plenty in common with our current one, but there’s a lot you don’t know about our Deputy Opposition Leader…At the time she was the only female lawyer in the entire South Burnett region, and as such, she says, “found myself falling into family law, and then, because there was no Legal Aid office in the region, doing a lot of pro bono work in the women’s legal area, particularly in domestic violence.”
- New round of partners named at nationals
5 July 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
Gilbert + Tobin appointed five new partners and one special counsel to mark the start of the new financial year. The new partners are: technology law and complex contracting lawyer Simon Burns, competition lawyer Charles Coorey, pro bono lawyer Anne Cregan, private equity lawyer David Josselsohn and M&A lawyer Nirangjan Nagarajah.
- Pro bono/Social justice: Leading from the middle
1 July 2016 – Law Institute Journal
Australia’s mid-sized (and smaller-sized) law firms have been nudged for not pulling their weight when it comes to pro bono legal service. However, recent figures show that is changing and that many mid-sized firms are ramping up their efforts… Factors underpinning the rise of pro bono effort in mid-sized practices include the appointment of dedicated pro bono leaders, the movement of lawyers from firms with established pro bono practices to firms with emerging practices, the expansion of mid-sized firms, a growing appreciation of the business case for pro bono, as well as client and community requirements and expectations.
- US: Lawyer David Baay Takes on Life-Changing Pro Bono Case
1 August 2016 – Texas Lawyer
INTERVIEW – Viktor Lim and his family were deported from Kazakhstan because of Lim’s work as a Baptist missionary. First, the U.S. Consulate agreed to give them tourist visas; Second, David Baay agreed to take on Lim’s case as a pro bono project. On June 2, Baay helped persuade the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to grant Lim and his family asylum—something that happens to only about 20 percent of applicants. Baay speaks about Lim’s case, how he handled it, and why pro bono projects are so important.
- INTERNATIONAL: Thomson Reuters Foundation Releases 2016 TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono [media release]
28 July 2016 – Thomson Reuters Legal Current
The 2016 edition of the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono benchmarking tool, was just released. The findings from the Index, which is designed to be a hub for information and trends in the pro bono sector, show that lawyers are consistently generous with their skills, expertise and resources. Compiled with data collected from over 130 law firms, comprising over 64,500 lawyers in 75 jurisdictions, we’re proud to report that pro bono is thriving globally. Lawyers at respondent firms undertook more than 2.5 million hours of pro bono over the last year, which works out at just a fraction under 40 hours of pro bono per lawyer, per year.
- US/CANADA: More lawyers giving 80-plus hours of pro bono work yearly
28 July 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
More lawyers are giving more than 80 hours of pro bono work every year, a new study has found. But the results also revealed that more lawyers are giving less pro bono hours. The study also found that lawyers employed at law firms donated an average of 70 hours each year, while their corporate peers donated an average of 36 hours…The study is based on 350 telephone interviews with lawyers at law firms and companies in the United States and Canada.
- CHINA: In China, Pro Bono is a Real Challenge
27 July 2016 – The American Lawyer
China isn’t the easiest venue for pro bono work, international firms say. Dechert, a firm that sometimes provides information pro bono on Chinese regulations and local procedures to nonprofits, such as Australia’s Global Poverty Project, that are seeking to operate in China. But the firm can’t give legal advice tailored to the client, says pro bono head Suzanne Turner, because China bars foreign law firms from practicing Chinese law.
- UK: Victims of revenge porn turn to students for legal advice
25 July 2016 – The Guardian
It’s over a year since revenge porn became a crime in the UK … yet there is still only one place in the UK that offers free legal advice specific to revenge porn. Spite (sharing and publishing images to embarrass) is a service run by students and staff at Queen Mary, University of London. It’s part of the university’s Legal Advice Centre (LAC), which offers members of the public free legal advice from student advisers under the supervision of qualified lawyers. Spite has so far advised around 80 revenge porn victims from all over the UK.
- US: Pro Bono NY Lawyers Train Kenyans to Better Prosecute Poaching
20 July 2016 – New York Law Journal
Shearman & Sterling partners Beau Buffier and Heather Kafele and name partner Douglas Wigdor, senior associate Renan Varghese and associate Elizabeth Chen from Wigdor LLP spent five days in June training Kenya Wildlife Service officers in aspects of the law to enforce the 2013 Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, which provides stricter financial and criminal penalties for poachers, including potential life imprisonment and a $200,000 fine.
- US: In Parent-Trigger School Fight, Kirkland Lawyers Get an A+
20 July 2016 – Law.com
The kids are already back in school at Desert Trails Preparatory Academy in Adelanto, California, a dusty town of 32,000 in the Mojave Desert… That the independent charter school’s 500 pupils have a campus to return to is due in large part to pro bono efforts by a team of litigators from Kirkland & Ellis, who won an essential ruling from an arbitrator last week.
- US: Forcing Lawyers to Perform Pro Bono Services
18 July 2016 – Verdict (Justia)
On Monday, May 17, 2016, Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke at the national convention of the American Law Institute… She cited approvingly a New York bar rule, instituted in 2012, that requires applicants for admission to the New York State bar to perform 50 hours of pro bono services… Yet, voluntarily choosing to perform pro bono work is quite different from the state requiring “forced labor.”
- UK: The Lawyer Awards – Avon & Bristol Law Centre: Pro bono initiative of the year
18 July 2016 – The Lawyer
The news that 90 people a month had died after being declared fit for work by the Department for Work and Pensions made headlines last summer… Three years ago, [Avon & Bristol Law Centre] head Andy King established a process by which student volunteers from the nearby University of Law campus and the University of the West of England could advise benefits claimants and represent them at tribunals.
- US: One reason so many veterans are homeless? They can’t afford lawyers.
8 July 2016 – The Washington Post
According to a new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least five out of the top 10 problems leading to homelessness among veterans cannot be solved without legal help… The survey found that many veterans are able to secure food, medical services and substance-abuse treatment. But for problems that require legal assistance such as fighting evictions, upgrading military discharge status or restoring a driver’s license, many veterans are not receiving the help they need.
- US: The National Trial Lawyers Forms Pro Bono Task Force for Families of Orlando Shooting Victims
3 July 2016 – Lawyers and Settlements
The National Trial Lawyers has created a pro bono Task Force of attorneys nationwide to help with legal issues facing families in the wake of the June 12 shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida… No one on the Task Force will receive compensation for these services. The Task Force will make referrals to the extent that specific legal needs arise for individual family members.
- US: Exclusive: Best Firms For Pro Bono
27 June 2016 – The American Lawyer
Hughes Hubbard & Reed leads The American Lawyer’s list of top Big Law firms for U.S. pro bono commitment, and Dechert beats other firms for its international pro bono work, according to our latest survey. The rankings are a shakeup of last year’s list; some firms say that they made a determined effort to improve, while others found themselves inundated with billable work.
- CHINA: In China, Pro Bono is a Real Challenge [subscription]
27 June 2016 – The American Lawyer
China isn’t the easiest venue for pro bono work, international firms say. Just ask Dechert. The firm sometimes provides information pro bono on Chinese regulations and local procedures to nonprofits, such as Australia’s Global Poverty Project, that are seeking to operate in China. But the firm can’t give legal advice tailored to the client, says pro bono head Suzanne Turner, because China bars foreign law firms from practicing Chinese law.
- US: What the Poor Really Need Is Legal Aid [requires subscription]
24 June 2016 – Law.com
This may come as a surprise, but some of the biggest skeptics of pro bono efforts come from the ranks of Big Law’s pro bono partners. “It’s a universal belief among the pro bono community that pro bono is not the solution,” says Steven Schulman, who leads the pro bono practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and is a former president of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel. “Pro bono is a very important part of being a lawyer, but anybody who thinks that it will solve the problem doesn’t know much about pro bono.”