PRO BONO IN THE NEWS: August – September 2015
Below you can find twenty-four articles of interest to the pro bono community that have been published since our last edition (Issue 101, August 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
Profile: James Farrell from QAILS
9 September 2015 – New Lawyer Language
James Farrell OAM is the director of QAILS (Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services), the peak organisation for community legal centres… If you could only give one bit of advice to new lawyers, what would it be? Get involved in pro bono or volunteer at a community legal centre, or in another cause. You’ve been blessed with skills and an education that can make a real difference to the community, so don’t waste it.
Amnesty sought for 7-Eleven’s exploited workers
6 September 2015 – Australian Financial Review
Class action law firm Maurice Blackburn has waded into convenience store giant 7-Eleven’s wage fraud scandal by offering thousands of underpaid workers pro bono advice. The offer follows a series of moves by 7-Eleven head office to try to restore its battered credibility and trashed reputation. Maurice Blackburn has offered to provide pro bono advice on all legal options regarding the underpayment of wages.
Pro Bono and Corporate Social Responsibility: Reputation building, recruitment, retention and client relationships
3 September 2015 – The Law Society of NSW
Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) is on the agenda of most significant businesses worldwide… Two important questions to ask in this context are: Where does a firm’s pro bono legal program fit into all of this? And what are the differing approaches amongst Australian firms?
Firms partner up for pro bono success
2 September 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
A new breed of pro bono programs sees firms teaming up with other organisations to deliver much-needed support to the community. Among the finalists in the Australian Law Awards Pro Bono Program of the Year category was King & Wood Mallesons’ Lawmail service. The firm joined with Telstra and ASIC to support the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre in an initiative providing free legal advice to young people online.
The perks of pro bono work
2 September 2015 – UQ News (The University of Queensland)
Battling domestic violence, assisting the Supreme Court of Tonga and helping provide legal support to the Solomon islands – it’s all in a semester’s work for University of Queensland law students. More than 110 UQ law students have been recognised free legal work at the annual Pro Bono Student Awards. UQ Pro Bono Centre Director Monica Taylor said the TC Beirne School of Law aimed to build a strong pro bono ethos in students, along with professional excellence.
Community spirit takes law students to Myanmar conference
1 September 2015 – UQ News (The University of Queensland)
Three University of Queensland law students will go to Myanmar next week to present at the Asia Pro Bono Conference and Legal Ethics Forum. TC Beirne School of Law students William Lee, Balawyn Jones and Rebecca Morrison will attend the four-day conference as part of a Brisbane delegation also including Caxton Legal Centre and the Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House.
Government backdown over myki fines
30 August 2015 – The Age
The Transport Department has again refused to prosecute commuters facing fare evasion charges after eminent barrister Julian Burnside, QC, and a team of pro-bono lawyers intervened in their ticketing disputes.
Firm pioneers pro bono crowdsourcing
27 August 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
Crowdfunding may be the future of improved access to justice, after Salvos Legal because the first firm to use crowdfunding on a pro bono case. On a highly compelling, public interest case, the lawyers at Salvos Legal have tapped into the humanitarian side of the community. Using crowdfunding, the firm has raised money to help a Bangladeshi man obtain an Australian visa and remain with his wife, after his attempt to prove his genuine refugee status unrepresented, failed.
Australian Law Awards finalists announced
17 August 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
The finalists in the category of Corporate – Pro Bono Program of the Year are: Colin Biggers & Paisley; K&L Gates; King & Wood Mallesons, Australian Securities & Investments Commission and Telstra; Maurice Blackburn Lawyers; Robina Community Legal Centre Inc.; Salvos Legal & Salvos Legal Humanitarian; Sparke Helmore Lawyers; TressCox Lawyers. The Awards dinner will be held on 17 September.
Firm joins fight against Alzheimers
13 August 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
K&L Gates has jumped on board ‘Ben’s Big Bash’, a cricket tournament established by fifteen year old Ben Philip to fight Alzheimers’… K&L Gates has significantly increased the number of pro bono hours undertaken in recent years, soaring from 8.5 hours per lawyer on average to 38 in just three years… “It is our belief that as lawyers we have a professional responsibility to provide access to justice to those that need it most,” [Clare Power] said of K&L Gate’s pro bono program.
Not-for-profit Law funded to expand service across Australia [media release]
13 August 2015 – Justice Connect
Not-for-profit Law has received grant funding as part of Perpetual’s IMPACT Partnership Program to support the expansion of its services across Australia over the next four years. The expansion will take place in phases. Work is already underway with our member law firms to extend the Information Hub to cover all jurisdictions of Australia.
Jane Dixon QC Appointed To The Supreme Court [media release]
11 August 2015 – Attorney-General of Victoria
Attorney-General Martin Pakula today announced the appointment of Jane Dixon QC to the Supreme Court, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of the Honourable Justice Betty King. Ms Dixon brings more than 30 years experience to the role… She is a former President of Liberty Victoria, Chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the Victorian Bar, member of the Indigenous Lawyers Committee and Trustee of the Indigenous Barristers Fund.
Wrongful detentions: NSW Police to pay $1.85 million in compensation after settling class action
3 August 2015 – Sydney Morning Herald
The NSW Police force has agreed to pay a total of $1.85 million to scores of young people across the state who have been wrongfully arrested, imprisoned and in some cases strip-searched due to errors in the police database… The issues before the class action was launched in 2010 by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Sydney law firm Maurice Blackburn.
Lawyer out $44K in dispute over pro bono retainer
24 August 2015 – Law Times
To anyone who may have had doubts, a Superior Court judge has issued a clear statement on the difference between pro bono and contingency-fee arrangements in a case that underlines the need for written retainer agreements. In a decision earlier this month, Justice Mario Faieta ruled in favour of a man who took his former lawyer to court after he presented him with numerous invoices for what the client said he thought was pro bono work.
Legal aid clinics thriving in Cuttack hospitals
2 September 2015 – Times of India
Encouraged by the success of legal aid clinics in hospitals, the Cuttack district legal aid services authority opened a legal aid clinic at the City Hospital here today. Cuttack district judge S N Mishra inaugurated the clinic, which is eighth such clinic in the district and third in any hospital in the state. The clinic would be operational on Monday and Thursday every week during which para-legal volunteers would provide legal aid services to the needy and represent the service seekers in different courts and tribunals , said the district secretary Soumyak Patra.
Free legal aid camp at MSU’s faculty of law
16 August 2015 – Times of India
M S University’s faculty of law for the first time will organize a free legal aid camp on August 23. Expert advocates and experienced teachers of the faculty will provide free legal advice to the public in general during this camp … “As per the Education Rules 2008 of the Bar Council of India, every law faculty should run a legal aid clinic under the supervision of a senior faculty member,” said professor R C Patel, officer on special duty at Faculty of Law.
Linklaters trains its lawyers in welfare law in access to justice push
9 September 2015 – Solicitors Journal
… Linklaters has commissioned a legal education charity to provide a bespoke training programme in housing law for its lawyers. Pro Bono Community (PBC) delivered the first of three programmes this summer to a cohort of volunteer solicitors at the firm, who were taught how to provide legal advice within legal clinics, given an overview of social security law focussed on housing benefits, and advised of common issues…
Volunteer law project wins 95% of ‘fit for work’ test appeal cases
2 September 2015 – The Guardian
Almost all of the 200 “fit for work” test appeals undertaken by a student volunteer project have been won, providing more evidence of the unreliability of the government’s controversial work capability assessment.The programme was created by Avon and Bristol Law centre, two years ago using a handpicked team of law students to fill the gap created by legal aid cuts in 2013. Legal aid has all but disappeared for welfare benefits work.
The Case for Pro Bono Support of Social Enterprises
9 September 2015 – New York Law Journal
Historically, the provision of pro bono legal services has focused on assisting persons of limited means and providing legal counsel to nonprofit organizations. However, in recent years, a new generation of innovative entrepreneurs is seeking to solve social and environmental problems in communities around the world. These market-based solutions may be implemented through nonprofit or for-profit enterprises, and increasingly involve a new class of for-profit corporate forms designed to accommodate a variety of missions beyond simply maximizing shareholder value.
New Pro Bono Rule Allows Outside Supervision of Work [paywall]
2 September 2015 – New York Law Journal
The New York Court of Appeals has broadened the rule requiring 50 hours of pro bono service for those seeking admission to the bar, allowing for remote supervision of pro bono work. Under a rule first announced in 2012 and effective this year, prospective New York lawyers must show they have performed at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono service before being admitted to the New York bar.
Pro bono gives solos experience and satisfaction
1 September 2015 – ABA Journal
When Chicago attorney Jill Metz started practicing as a solo attorney in the early 1980s, she decided she would always make time to do pro bono work. Though she needed to get her practice off the ground and earn a living, Metz volunteered five to 10 hours a week for the People’s Law Office in the Uptown neighborhood, doing criminal defense work and housing law for the mostly poor clientele.
Lifetime Achiever: Esther Lardent, Pro Bono Institute [paywall]
24 August 2015 – American Lawyer
Esther Lardent, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Pro Bono Institute, can be very persuasive. Just ask U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has spoken at nearly all of PBI’s yearly meetings since the late 1990s, no matter how busy her schedule. Ginsburg happens to be a big fan of PBI’s efforts to give poor and disadvantaged communities better access to legal services. But Lardent’s lobbying hasn’t hurt.
California prison to provide surgery to trans woman
13 August 2015 – The Bay Area Reporter
State prison officials have reached a groundbreaking settlement with a transgender woman held in a men’s prison and will provide gender-affirming surgery for her, while another imprisoned transgender woman who’s been seeking surgery from the state was paroled this week. The Oakland-based Transgender Law Center… represented Quine along with pro bono counsel from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP.
Sen. Durbin urges pro bono work, new approaches to closing justice gap
8 August 2015 – American 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.
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