PRO BONO IN THE NEWS: June – July 2015
Below you can find articles of interest to the pro bono community that have been published since our last edition (Issue 99, June 2015). Click through to read any news article in full.
Firm pays for pro bono lawyer to tackle family violence
29 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Gadens and Colin Biggers & Paisley are financially backing a part-time policy lawyer at Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) to contribute to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The lawyer … will work three days a week on legal policies needed to tackle violence against women and children across Victoria.”[This position] will increase WLSV’s capacity to undertake policy work by more than 60 per cent at a critical time for achieving change in relation to family violence,” said WLSV chief executive Joanna Fletcher.
Make visible what is invisible: ABA president
26 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Disruptive lawyers can expose injustice by ‘shining a light into dark places’, but legal battles are becoming increasingly difficult to win in the present political climate. That is the story that emerged from a panel discussion at the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference hosted in Sydney last week. During the event, prominent solicitors and barristers were invited to speak on the topic ‘Disruptive and dynamic lawyers: the gatekeepers of justice’.
Arts depend on pro bono lawyers
23 June 2015 – ArtsHub
Without the pro bono assistance from individual lawyers, law students and many law firms Arts Law would not be able to deliver the services and vital guidance it provides to artists and arts organisations. Established as an independent national legal centre for the arts, the not-for-profit company specialises in legal advice across all art forms, together with targeted services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists through its Artists in the Black program.
New data puts spotlight on legal aid underfunding
23 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
National Legal Aid (NLA) has found that the nation’s governments spend just six cents per person, per day on legal aid commissions. The figure was revealed by NLA chair Gabrielle Canny at the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference held in Sydney last week. She said the figure highlights the chronic underfunding of legal aid and the federal government’s failure to heed warnings of a crisis in the sector.
Go professional on pro bono, firms urged
19 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
Effective pro bono programs require a strategic approach, including a dedicated pro bono team within the firm, says a DLA Piper partner. Nicolas Patrick, who heads DLA Piper’s international pro bono practice, believes most lawyers are willing to do community work, but many firms rely on ad hoc programs lacking oversight or strategy.
The business of doing good
18 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
The ethical foundations of pro bono work don’t stop it being of enormous commercial value to law firms. Pro bono is the only practice area where having too many clients is a problem. Or is it? With the steady growth of pro bono practices across Australian and international law firms, it would be naive to think these benevolent enterprises do not serve the financial self-interest of the businesses.
Pro bono becomes full-time vocation
17 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
A winner of the 30 Under 30 pro bono category turned a passion for volunteering into her career. 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 on family law or domestic violence matters. Ms Cook joined the organisation as a full-time lawyer in 2012, being promoted to principal solicitor in 2013.
Exclusive: Salvos launches new practice with senior hire
17 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
A former group head and partner at a national firm has been recruited by Salvos Legal to help achieve its ambitious growth target. Guy Betar, a former Sparke Helmore partner who set up the firm’s IP/IT legal services group in Sydney, has joined Salvos to drive a new IP and technology practice.
Lawyer at all-gay firm resigned to long engagement
16 June 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
‘Out and proud’ LGBTI firm Dowson Turco […] recently threw their support behind a transgender woman who was physically assaulted in Newtown … “[We] approached the victim … to offer our services on a pro bono basis,” … The firm also volunteers lawyers to work pro bono with the Inner City Legal Centre, supports the New Theatre in Newtown, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Animals Australia and Amnesty International.
Revisiting the spirit of Magna Carta
10 June 2015 – Radio National
Perhaps revisiting the spirit and symbolism of Magna Carta can bring justice and mercy to bear on the current issues of injustice faced by Australia, writes John Corker. The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta provides us with an opportunity to think about law as being about justice and to get beyond the usual ‘law and order’ approach that seems to dominate the debate about the legal system in Australia.
Victorian lawyer new solicitor-general
10 June 2015 – 9News
A lawyer who advised Labor on the controversially-cancelled East West Link contract is Victoria’s new solicitor-general … “His legal expertise, strategic approach and unique capacity to provide legal advice across government will be invaluable to our state,” Mr Pakula said. Mr Niall has previously served on a number of Victorian Bar committees – including the Access to Justice Committee and Pro Bono Committee – and is the chair of the Public Law Section of the Commercial Bar Association.
Human Rights and Pro Bono Lawyer: Interview with Emily Christie
9 June 2015 – The Hatchling
Human rights law is a particularly popular area of interest for many law students. Luckily, The Hatchling was able to chat to Emily Christie, a human rights and pro bono lawyer with DLA Piper who generously gave some very real insight into the practice of this area in Australia … “[I have worked] on a variety of matters from human rights, to discrimination law, stolen generations cases and general pro bono management.”
Campaigner against death penalty honoured
8 June 2015 – news.com.au
High-profile judge and long-time anti-death penalty campaigner Lex Lasry has been honoured for his service to the law. Justice Lasry was appointed on Monday a Member (MA) of the Order of Australia for significant service to the law, through pro bono advocacy and legal professional organisations, and to the judiciary.
Lunch with Michael Abbott, QC
6 June 2015 – The Advertiser
He is undoubtably SA’s highest profile barrister, whose client list reads like the who’s who of Adelaide. But as chairman of the Legal Services Commission, Michael Abbott, AO, QC, also champions the rights of those who turn to the state for legal assistance… You are one of the most expensive barristers in town, but you also do a considerable amount of pro bono work. Why? That’s my business how much I do of that. I don’t do work for the commission because I am chairman, but I do work for nothing rather for legal aid.
Adverse Costs in Pro Bono Litigation: the SCC Weighs In
22 June 2015 – Bennett Jones
… In 2011, the trial judge awarded him $5.8 million, including $440,000 for the value of the legal services provided by his pro bono lawyers. The trial judge relied on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in 1465778 Ontario Inc v 1122077 Ontario Ltd, in which the Court held there is no prohibition on an award of costs in favour of pro bono counsel, even in private actions (Bennett Jones’ Jeffrey Leon was counsel to the Advocates’ Society).
Liberia, the Magna Carta, and the Rule of Law
17 June 2015 – The PB Eye
On June 15, thousands of people from around the world descended on a field in Runnymede in the United Kingdom to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta… How can pro bono attorneys contribute to the vision being discussed and celebrated this week? One answer is rule of law themed pro bono projects, particularly in post-conflict countries. A noteworthy example is a recently completed project in Liberia, in which Thomson Reuters Corporation teamed up with Linklaters and the nonprofit organization Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB).
Top firms wary of Gove’s ‘richest pay’ plan
29 June 2015 – The Law Society 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.
Justice secretary told pro bono ‘no substitute’ for legal aid
23 June 2015 – The Law Society Gazette
The Law Society has urged justice secretary Michael Gove not to rely on pro bono to plug gaps in the justice system created by legal aid cuts. Gove said the government planned to ask the ‘very richest in the justice system to do a little bit more’ to fund the court system. The Gazette understands the lord chancellor is open to the idea of both pro bono work and financial contributions from City lawyers.
Lawyers respond to Lord Chancellor’s ‘One Nation’ justice policy
23 June 2015 – Solicitors Journal
Plugging the legal aid gap with pro bono is unsustainable as a long-term solution. An attention-catching speech by the new Lord Chancellor has failed to elicit celebratory cheers from the legal profession. Michael Gove’s first public speech outlined his proposals for reform of the justice system, including a review of the court estate, the introduction of new technology solutions, and a call for more pro bono services from lawyers.
Hundreds of children to benefit from innovative pro bono legal project
10 June 2015 – Family Law Week
Law firms Allen & Overy and DLA Piper have teamed up with children’s legal charity Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) to launch a new collaborative legal project which … will provide quality, free-of-charge legal representation so that children with a right in law to become British citizens can exercise that right. The Children’s Pro Bono Legal Service will be led by a solicitor at CCLC, who will supervise volunteer lawyers from the partner firms in undertaking pro bono legal casework.
First Pro Bono Scholars Admitted to the Bar
25 June 2015 – New York Law Journal
The first class of Pro Bono Scholars, a program that allows 3L students to spend their final semesters of law school working in the field, was sworn in this week to each of the state’s four appellate division departments. The program has 106 participants statewide … Law students who qualify are allowed to take the bar examination … and then work for 500 hours over 12 weeks for groups providing legal services to the indigent. Provided they pass the bar exam and complete the program’s requirements, the participants can be sworn in just after graduation – up to one year earlier than classmates.
Law Journal Seeks Nominations for Pro Bono, Public Service
22 June 2015 – New York Law Journal
The New York Law Journal is soliciting nominations for Lawyers Who Lead by Example, public service-minded attorneys who have made an outstanding contribution to their community by working toward improving the courts, the laws or the profession, and/or by providing free legal services to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.
Put Lawyers Where They’re Needed
17 June 2015 – The New York Times
Millions of Americans lack crucial legal services. Yet enormous numbers of lawyers are unemployed. Why can’t the supply of lawyers match the demand?… We must help law students graduate without a ball and chain of debt. And we need to create jobs that let new graduates practice law either pro bono or “low bono” (cut-price) for clients who can’t afford most attorneys’ rates.
For Kidnapping Survivors’ Lawyers, A Pro Bono Case Like No Other [subscription]
11 June 2015 – The AM Law Daily
The end of a decade of abuse and imprisonment for Amanda Berry and her fellow victims sparked joy, disgust, relief and endless questions. Among them: How could they ever put their lives back together after such an ordeal? … Lawyers James “Jim” Wooley and Heather Kimmel joined in the nation’s shock at [their] harrowing escape from a decade of crime and captivity inside what would become known as Cleveland’s ‘house of horrors.’
DC Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Convictions in 1984 Murder – Pro bono attorneys from some of D.C.’s biggest firms represented defendants [subscription]
11 June 2015 – National Law Journal
Thirty years after a jury in Washington found a group of young men guilty in the fatal beating of 48-year-old Catherine Fuller, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected efforts to toss out the convictions.
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