Issue 123: November 2017
Q&A with Lauren Miller, Carnival Australia
We spoke with General Counsel Lauren Miller about what pro bono legal work at Carnival Australia looks like, and why her legal team does pro bono.
Q: Could you describe the pro bono legal work you have done together for RACS and Special Olympics Australia?
A: Members of the Carnival Australia Legal team attend the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) Clinic on Wednesday evenings to assist asylum seekers in their visa applications. Norton Rose Fulbright kindly assist with rostering and coordination of the RACS Clinic and are very accommodating of our need for flexibility.
We also partnered with Norton Rose Fulbright on a research project on supported decision making for Special Olympics Australia. Our team members partnered with lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright in researching and developing the project. The desktop nature of the research meant that we could individually balance the project with other commitments while also benefiting from the collective insights and experience of the group.
Q: What proportion of the Carnival Australia legal team has been involved in these pro bono projects?
A: Despite being a small and busy team, we have each been involved in either or both of these pro bono projects. The research project provided an opportunity for all of us to contribute in a flexible way and to manage our time accordingly.
Currently, 3 of our team members regularly attend the RACS Clinic. Norton Rose Fulbright provide advance notice of multiple clinic dates which we can select if we are available. This allows us to plan ahead and ensure we can manage our attendance in conjunction with other commitments.
The team has collectively embraced pro bono work as an opportunity for personal and professional development. The flexibility afforded in both projects has allowed all of us to contribute our time in a manageable and sustainable way.
Q: How is Carnival Australia’s pro bono work supported by the organisation? How are Carnival Australia’s lawyers’ pro bono commitments managed around their normal workload?
A: Our pro bono work is a natural extension of our organisation’s commitment to sustainability, diversity and inclusion.
The idea that shared value is created through contribution to our communities is fundamental to how we operate. In some ways, our pro bono work is simply another expression of that principle. The shared value for our organisation and for the organisations we support through pro bono work is mutually reinforcing.
We are a small team in a fast-paced dynamic environment. We also have a range of family and personal commitments outside of work. However, we all made a conscious choice to contribute to the extent we could through pro bono work. The suggestion that involvement in pro bono work comes at the expense of fulfilling work obligations is simply not true in our experience. The skills we have developed and the perspective we have gained through pro bono work have made us more effective lawyers. In addition, the support of Norton Rose Fulbright and their flexible approach has allowed us to balance our commitment to pro bono projects with other professional and personal commitments.
Q: How is the partnership between Carnival Australia and Norton Rose Fulbright managed? Where is the pro bono work undertaken?
A: We had an initial discussion with Norton Rose Fulbright to explore the pro bono opportunities we could be involved in. We expressed our interest in both desktop research projects and attendance at the RACS Clinic. Our colleagues at Norton Rose Fulbright are in touch with us regularly to coordinate and facilitate our attendance at the RACS Clinic and to notify us of new opportunities to be involved.
The support of Norton Rose Fulbright has allowed us to maximise our participation and contribution.
Q: What existing expertise and skills have the Carnival Australia and Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers applied to these projects?
A: We have applied our existing capacity for critical thinking, effective communication and problem solving to our pro bono work. Although these projects are outside our direct fields of expertise and our day-to-day practice areas, we have been able to translate our skills and experiences in these new contexts.
Importantly, by challenging ourselves and stepping beyond our imagined boundaries, we have recognised our own potential to make a positive contribution.
Q: What new skills have the lawyers involved developed? What other benefits does involvement bring to each lawyer?
A: Our involvement in pro bono work has developed our skills in a holistic way. We have learned new skills and approaches in relation to communication, interviewing, drafting and research. In addition to these important technical skills, pro bono work has also afforded us a very deep and immediate sense of perspective. It has allowed us to put some of the pressures and challenges we face in our daily work into context and to approach our work in different ways.
The depth of development we gain from these real-world experiences is not something we could simulate through other forms of training.
We have also had the opportunity to engage with one another in different ways and to learn from the lawyers we have partnered with in our pro bono projects.
Q: What does each of Carnival Australia gain from working on this project, and in partnership with Norton Rose Fulbright?
A: Carnival Australia gains the opportunity to support the professional and personal development of its Legal team in a way that is consistent with a commitment to shared value. We also have the opportunity to partner with Norton Rose Fulbright who are aligned in their commitment and their positive contribution to important issues of public benefit.
Q: The Carnival Australia lawyers providing advice to Special Olympics Australia are insured under the Australian Pro Bono Centre’s National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme. How has this supported Carnival Australia’s work on the project?
A: The Australian Pro Bono Centre’s National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme was critical to Carnival Australia’s involvement in the Special Olympics Australia project. Without this insurance we would not have been able to participate in this research project. The process for obtaining this insurance was very efficient and straightforward. It is a very valuable initiative which removes one of the key barriers to participation in pro bono work for in-house lawyers. We are very grateful for the support we have received form the Australian Pro Bono Centre.
Jackie O’Brien, Partner, and Leanne Collingburn, Special Counsel, Norton Rose Fulbright about the firm’s pro bono work with Carnival Australia:
It has been so wonderful to collaborate with Carnival Australia’s in-house team through our RACS clinic and our research project for Special Olympics Australia. Lauren and team have fostered such a wonderful pro bono culture at Carnival Australia and clearly prioritise pro bono legal work as part of their day-to-day operations. Our pro bono collaborations have helped us to foster a closer relationship with the in-house team at Carnival Australia and at the same time we are able to provide a broader legal offering to our pro bono clients which is always a good thing!
For more details on the Centre’s Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance Scheme, and to apply for cover, see here.
For more information on providing pro bono assistance for in-house lawyers and legal teams, see here.
We’ve created a free resource especially for in-house corporate lawyers, to equip you for pro bono legal work. Download Pro Bono Legal Work: A guide for in-house corporate lawyers.
STORIES IN THIS ISSUE:
AUSTRALIAN PRO BONO NEWS