Below you can find 28 articles of interest to the pro bono community that have been published since our last edition (Issue 105, December 2015). 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
- Clutz throws support behind Aus Paralympians
10 Feb 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
Clayton Utz recently hosted the announcement of the Australian Paralympic Team captains for this year’s Rio Games. Clayton Utz has been the Official Legal Provider to the Australian Paralympic Committee since 2003. The firm has provided a range of pro bono legal support including helping to negotiate broadcast rights for the Paralympic Games, providing volunteers and fundraising.
- ABA tackles Indigenous incarceration and legal aid shortfall
3 Feb 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
Patrick O’Sullivan SC, an Adelaide-based barrister, took over the ABA presidency from Fiona McLeod SC at the start of February. Mr O’Sullivan told Lawyers Weekly he intends to continue lobbying on many of the issues championed by Ms McLeod, including Indigenous incarceration.
- True grit: Deng Thiak Adut, the Blacktown lawyer inspiring a generation of new Australians
30 Jan 2016 – Illawarra Mercury
Deng Thiak Adut first won national attention late last year, when a short video telling his life story went viral. He is now a partner in the AC Law Group, a firm which he co-founded, and works seven days a week. He takes on fee-paying criminal trials and family law, and refugee pro bono cases.
- Free legal chat reaches major milestone
27 Jan 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
The Legal Services Commission of South Australia has hit a major milestone with their free online chat service, launched back in October last year. Australian first, Legal Chat, has now reached its 1,000th user.
- David Hicks’ lawyer reveals why he sued the US and Australian governments
25 Jan 2016 – Radio National
Steve Kenny, the lawyer and long-time advocate for David Hicks, reflects on why he fought the United States and Australian governments, and shares some of his thoughts on pro bono work.
- WA bushfires: Free legal advice for South West fire victims to help with insurance
21 Jan 2016 – news.com.au
Residents affected by the deadly bushfire in WA’s South West can access free legal advice to negotiate insurance claims and deal with destroyed documents. Attorney General Michael Mischin said since the February 2011 bushfires in Kelmscott and Roleystone, Legal Aid WA had worked alongside community legal centres and private lawyers to provide free help after natural disasters.
- Demand for apology: Asian customers angry at Woolworths for blocking baby formula orders
14 Jan 2016 – Sydney Morning Herald
Three furious customers are demanding an apology from Woolworths for cancelling their online baby formula orders and suspending their accounts, accusing the supermarket giant of racial profiling… Frustrated by Woolworths’ lack of explanation, they have banded together to lodge a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission… “They’re disturbed and wanting an investigation,” said their lawyer Kingsley Liu of The People’s Solicitors, working pro bono. “We’re preparing the paperwork. If it’s not resolved, it will continue to the Federal Court level.”
- Domestic violence: How to restore women’s trust in justice
10 Jan 2016 – Brisbane Times
What is important to victims’ sense of justice are: active participation, being heard, validation, offender accountability and restoration. These findings come from the report Will Somebody Listen to me? by colleagues at the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre. Only a small number of women said they wanted the offender imprisoned. The findings are also consistent with feedback to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
- Law Access ‘safety net’ legal service under pressure from funding cuts, says chairman Matt Keogh
10 Dec 2015 – Perth Now
A legal service of last resort for cash-strapped West Australians is anticipating an increased demand as government-funded services struggle to keep up. Law Access acts as a pro bono “safety net” for people Legal Aid doesn’t have the resources to service because of continued funding restrictions. Law Access chairman and Labor candidate for the new federal seat of Burt, Matt Keogh, said the service had received double the usual number of applications for assistance in the past year.
- USA: Pro-bono law clinic offers community education
15 Feb 2016 – Great Falls Tribune
The Cascade County Law Clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides pro-bono legal representation to qualified clients. Next month, the clinic is offering an educational program that will serve as a fundraiser for the group.
- Ethics Issues in Pro Bono Representation: Can v. Should
8 Feb 2016 – probono.net
Ethics discussions can be incredibly complicated. Often the correct ethical decision is dependent on multiple factors and interpretations. While usually ethics discussions focus on what a lawyer can do … the panel for the Practising Law Institute’s webinar “Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation 2015” ask pro bono attorneys to focus on what a lawyer can and should do in order to provide the best service to the client.
- USA: Little Firm, Big Heart: Boutique Donates Entire Pro Bono Fee to Legal Charities [subscription required]
8 Feb 2016 – Litigation Daily
Litigation boutique Kendall Brill & Kelly settled a major pro bono case that will desegregate Arizona’s prisons, and it pledged to give its entire court-awarded fee to public interest organizations.
- KENYA: Free legal services will help protect rights
4 Feb 2016 – Daily Nation
Justus Nyang’aya – Country Director, Amnesty International Kenya – discusses the right to access to justice and legal representation in Kenya.
- SINGAPORE: Guide for in-house lawyers on helping out
30 Jan 2016 – The Straits Times
To get more in-house lawyers to take up voluntary work, the Law Society of Singapore and law firm DLA Piper will launch a free guide today explaining how they can help. The 29-page Singapore In-House Legal Counsel Pro Bono Guide will be available online and in hard-copy form.
- USA: Pro Bono Work by Major Law Firms Provides Voice to the Voiceless
29 Jan 2016 – California Lawyer
Linda Smith, a partner at DLA Piper Los Angeles, reflects on her role in United States v. Texas, and how large law firms can greatly impact public policy through pro bono work.
- USA: Raising the Bar: The 2016 Pro Bono Hot List
18 Jan 2016 – National Law Journal
“Faster, higher, stronger,” may be the Olympic creed, but it could also serve as the battle cry of the law firms on our 2016 Pro Bono Hotlist. Lawyers volunteered their services to fight for voting rights, for veterans and to protect free speech across the globe. They bolstered efforts against human trafficking, advocated for prisoners, for students and for transgender people seeking health care.
- INDIA: Professional litigants of the Supreme Court
18 Jan 2016 – live mint
Courts coming down heavily on litigants is not a new phenomenon, especially in public interest litigation. Recently, chief justice of India T.S. Thakur asked if the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, a non-profit organisation, was a “professional litigant”. In response, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan said CPIL was not a professional litigant, citing the fact that it received no funds for the cases it pursued. “Most of the work is pro bono,” he said.
- NZ: Rise in self-representation shows need for examination of access to justice [media release]
18 Jan 2016 – New Zealand Law Society
The rise in people who represent themselves in court proceedings is one of several indicators that a wide-ranging examination of the barriers to an accessible justice system is needed, New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore says.
- NZ: Problems growing from unaffordable legal costs
15 Jan 2016 – Newstalk ZB
The gap between those who can afford legal aid and those who can afford a lawyer is growing – leaving more and more people to fend for themselves in the courtroom. New Zealand lawyers are echoing comments from the UK, that the civil justice system is unaffordable for most people. Law Society spokesman Andrew Beck said judges here have noted a growing number of people attempting to represent themselves.
- US: Pro Bono Makes All the Difference in Family Matters
13 Jan 2016 – New York Law Journal
Justice Jeffrey Sunshine’s moving, landmark decision in Alice M. v. Terrance T. is about more than the impact of egregious conduct on the equitable distribution of the marital portion of a city worker’s pension; it is also about access to economic justice and the right to counsel. Had it not been for pro bono representation, plaintiff Alice M. might have had to share her only asset, a modest retirement account, with a man who brutally and repeatedly raped, assaulted and terrorized her.
- CHINA: China detains Swedish human rights worker Peter Dahlin
13 Jan 2016 – BBC News
China has detained a Swedish human rights worker in Beijing, amid a crackdown on defence lawyers. Peter Dahlin is believed to be the first foreign national detained in connection with the drive. The foreign ministry said Mr Dahlin, who co-founded a group offering legal aid to Chinese citizens, is suspected of harming the national interest. Since July, nearly 300 people in China’s legal community have faced police questioning or detention.
- UK: Lawyers fees and legal aid cuts block access to justice, warn top judges
13 Jan 2016 – The Telegraph
Huge fees charged by lawyers and cuts to legal aid have forced huge numbers of ordinary people to abandon the justice system, senior judges have warned. In a stark message, the Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, said bringing legal action – or, alternatively, defending oneself against litigation – has become “unaffordable” for most people.
- SINGAPORE: Drumming up a pro bono spirit
13 Jan 2016 – The Straits Times
An initiative of the National University of Singapore law school to spur public service among undergraduates – by examining students via their contributions to a migrant worker legal clinic – should induce broader reflection on the volunteer work of professionals… The social threats posed by widening income gaps in current times require more professionals to embrace their responsibility to give back to society by, for example, offering services to benefit those of limited means.
- USA: Worcester, Lowell socked with costs, fees from lawsuits on panhandling limits
12 Jan 2016 – The Telegram
The lawyers who successfully challenged panhandling restrictions in Worcester and Lowell are now seeking a significant amount of spare change. The ACLU of Massachusetts and… Goodwin Procter LLP have asked a federal judge for $1,026,223 in fees and costs from the city of Worcester in connection with a 2013 lawsuit that resulted in a federal judge last November striking down the city’s panhandling ordinances.
- USA: Why Do Pro Bono Work? [blog]
10 Jan 2016 – Lawyers.com
Everyone is entitled to a lawyer, right? Right. Each member of The Florida Bar, as part of that member’s professional responsibility, should perform at least 20 hours of pro bono legal service [per year] to those who cannot afford private legal services. Along with performing pro bono services, members of the Bar also have the option to make a contribution of at least $350 to a legal aid organization.
- USA: In-House Pro Bono in Practice
5 Jan 2016 – Thomson Reuters: Legal Executive Institute
Often when someone unfamiliar with the topic hears about in-house pro bono and Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) … the first question they ask is: What kind of pro bono legal services do in-house counsel provide? Or, if they are new in-house counsel, they may ask: How can I help? The need for pro bono assistance is so great and the opportunities are so plentiful that selecting projects can be daunting. It involves balancing the interests and concerns of your company, department and legal staff, with the needs of the communities.
- SINGAPORE: NUS law module assesses students on pro bono work
5 Jan 2016 – The Straits Times
While most budding lawyers prepare for their exams by poring over stacks of notes, a group of final-year law students spent this term helping foreign workers. They are the pioneer batch in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) new legal clinic module. It assesses students not through written exams, but on how they help migrant workers in legal matters [which] could range from explaining work injury or salary claims to workers to helping a qualified lawyer defend a worker in court.
- USA: Pro Bono Goes Global [subscription]
11 Dec 2015 – Stanford Social Innovation Review
Some big law firms are venturing into developing regions to offer voluntary services and to help advance the rule of law. In the US legal profession, it is a well-entrenched principle that lawyers have an ethical obligation to provide pro bono legal services to poor clients… But outside the United States and a handful of other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, the practice of pro bono has been slow to emerge within legal circles.