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
- Justice reinvestment offers chance to cut number of indigenous inmates
23 September 2016 – The Australian (via Law Council of Australia)
By Stuart Clark, President of the Law Council of Australia. No matter which way you look at it, indigenous imprisonment represents a national crisis. New approaches urgently are needed and the promising reports of the Bourke justice reinvestment trial offer a glimmer of hope.
- Crisis communications – can your law firm survive?
23 September 2016 – Lawyers Weekly
It could be only a matter of time before your law firm faces a crisis that severely damages its reputation. The first step to responding quickly and appropriately to the court of public opinion is to establish a strong reputation. Your first line of defence is to have what some have described as a ‘goodwill bank’ with stakeholders, including the media. It will cushion criticism and encourage stakeholders to give the firm the benefit of the doubt. ‘Deposits’ into the goodwill bank include building awareness of your values, integrity, and the dynamics of your business, taking advantage of opportunities for positive media stories, and doing pro bono work for deserving local community groups.
- Unanderra fire fighter’s family still homeless a week on from devastating house fire
22 September 2016 – Illawara Mercury
A week on from the “worst day of their lives’’ the Balzans are still homeless but thankful to those in the community who have supported them after an electrical fire destroyed their Figtree family home. Diana Foye of Foye Legal is representing the Balzans on a pro bono basis, advising them of their legal rights.
- Bondi law firm to offer music festival goers free consultations
20 September 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
In a post on Facebook, law firm Gorval Lynch told festival goers that it will give 20-minutes of legal consultations for free if they are detained, stopped or charged by the police.The firm says it’s not encouraging drug use or illegal activity but is making people aware of information they are legally bound to provide.
- Pro Bono Professionals
15 September 2016 – Law Institute Victoria President’s Blog
President of the Law Institute Victoria, Steven Sapountsis, discusses the tremendous contributions of the Victorian legal profession in the provision of pro- bono legal services.
- La Trobe law students enlisted to help Asylum Seeker Resource Centre clear claims backlog
11 September 2016 – The Age
Students from La Trobe University’s law school will be enlisted to help the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre clear a backlog of asylum claims; the so-called “legacy caseload” of tens of thousands of people who arrived in the surge in boat people coming under the Gillard and Rudd governments and whose asylum claims have still not been assessed.
- Law a beacon of hope for refugee
1 September 2016 – Law Institute Journal
Nyadol Nyuon just wants to be a good lawyer but her personal story invites great interest. … At the firm Ms Nyuon works in commercial litigation and has also been involved in pro bono cases for charities. “Some of them have been quite complex and I thought, wow I’m only a junior lawyer and I’m getting to do this.”
- Skype justice: Budget cuts push community lawyers to improvise with IT
26 August 2016 – Australasian Lawyer
Community lawyers are forced to increasingly depend on communication tools like Skype and Twitter to combat the adverse effect of funding cuts, a new study revealed… Meanwhile, the study also showed community legal centres rely heavily on volunteers. The 28 community legal centres that participated in the survey reported 1,750 volunteers giving 96,000 hours of their time to help provide services.
- Victims of violence, Rebuilding Strength Project
25 August 2016 – Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation
The Rebuilding Strength Project, undertaken by the Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation and the Women’s Legal Service Victoria, focuses on victims of domestic violence & exploring compensation avenues for those victims. A team of lawyers assist the women with their applications to the Victims of Crime Tribunal for them to receive some kind of financial compensation or eligibility for ongoing counselling services. Additionally, the team assists in the process of law reform.
- The Refugee Assistance Project [joint statement]
19 August 2016 – Refugee Advice and Casework Services and NSW Young Lawyers
The Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) and NSW Young Lawyers have launched a new project called the Refugee Assistance Project. The project will assist a proportion of the 7,000 people in NSW who are requesting asylum and are currently unrepresented with filling in their visa application forms under the Fast Track process.
- Homeless Person Union of Victoria Press Conference
15 August 2016 – Homeless Person Union of Victoria
The Homeless Person Union of Victoria is a grassroots organisation consisting of members who have been or currently are homeless. It works to ensure that the voices and concerns of homeless Victorians are given a platform for expression. It recently held a press conference on 12 August 2016.
- Partnering in pro bono [Video]
August 2016 – Australasianlawyer.com.au
Lawyers from DLA Piper partnered with the legal team at AIG on pro bono work to research the cross-jurisdictional statutory compensation for survivors of human trafficking.
- UK: International law giants scoop pro bono prizes
23 September 2016 – Solicitors Journal
Law firms and associates from around the world have been celebrated for their commitment to pro bono causes at the 2016 TrustLaw Awards hosted in New York. Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis are the big winners as lawyers use their corporate skills to aid grassroots projects.
- VIETNAM: Free legal aid to HIV vulnerables
22 September 2016 – Vietnam Net Bridge
Those most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS will have the opportunity to receive free legal counsel, for example in employment and marriage issues, in a national pilot project kicking off soon.
- US: Back In The Race: No Bono — 4 Reasons Why Solo And Small-Firm Lawyers Minimize Pro Bono Work
21 September 2016 – Above the Law
Most lawyers are not hostile to pro bono work. Many solos and small firms already provide simple legal advice for free to the truly indigent as part of their screening process. But there are all kinds of pragmatic reasons that make it difficult for lawyers to provide steady pro bono work. Looking at the most common reasons why solo and small firm lawyers minimise pro bono work may help us figure out the best way to approach pro bono as a profession.
- US: Idaho Supreme Court hopefuls don’t track their pro bono work
20 September 2016 – Herald Courier
When Chief Justice Jim Jones steps down from the Idaho Supreme Court come January, he’ll leave a legacy as one of the state’s biggest champions of promoting some free or reduced-rate work by lawyers throughout Idaho’s judicial system. The two candidates hoping to replace Jones say they believe they clock more than the suggested 50 hours of free or reduced-fee legal services each year. However, neither candidates track their hours towards pro bono work they provide.
- US: Firm’s 8 Years of Pro Bono Work Pay Off for Man Convicted of Murder [requires subscription]
15 September 2016 – New York Law Journal
The murder, rape and robbery conviction of a man who spent decades in prison was vacated Wednesday, bringing to a close an eight-year odyssey for attorneys at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton who took the case pro bono and saw it through two rounds of DNA testing and new law on reviewing convictions made by the New York Court of Appeals.
- US: Pro Bono Family Law Attorney Equates Social Responsibility With Success
6 September 2016 – Legal by the Bay: News from The Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice & Diversity Center
The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) thanks Volunteer of the Month, Audrey Courson, who has taken on eight matters with the Family Law Project since January 2016. Courson previously practiced general civil litigation, and now focuses on family law in her new practice, Law Offices of Audrey T. Courson.
- US: Legal Aid Society and pro bono attorneys provided $23.3 million in free legal assistance
6 September 2016 – Murfreesboro Post
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and the attorneys who assist the organization on a pro bono basis through its Volunteer Lawyers Program collectively provided Tennesseans with $23.3 million in free legal assistance and representation in 2015, the non-profit law firm announced. That’s a 2.6 percent increase over 2014.
- UK: Why I Do Pro Bono – Lizzie Fortune
5 September 2016 – Lizzie Fortune
South West London Law Centres coordinate the single largest pro bono advice clinic service in the UK, running up to sixteen free advice clinics across South West London each week. Last year we provided free advice to 4477 people.
- US: ‘This is our chance’: advocates fear criminal justice reform after Obama
5 September 2016 – The Guardian
When Jerri Mason saw Barack Obama shorten the sentences of 214 people in one day, she decided she had to get his attention and tell him about her father. … The announcement gave birth to the Clemency Project 2014. A group of five nonprofits enlist pro bono lawyers to review the cases of the more than 33,000 federal inmates who applied when Obama announced his initiative and help them file strong petitions.
- NIGERIA: NBA to take pro-bono cases to decongest prisons
5 September 2016 – The National Mirror
Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Minna branch Chairman, Barrister Mohammed Kudu Ndayeko, has directed the Bar to take over pro bono cases to contribute its quota in the decongestion of over 75,000 inmates languishing in various prison facilities, across the country.
- US: This Pro Bono Clinic Guides Transgender People Through Legal Bureaucracy
26 August 2016 – Chicago Magazine
It’s not easy to change your name or gender marker on official identification documents. This group at John Marshall Law School can help. This January, like many Chicagoans, Gia Guerrero was dreaming of warmer weather and planning a summer vacation with her sister. The 28-year-old and her sister wanted to travel to Argentina, but during the planning process, Gia realized that as a transgender woman, traveling through customs and leaving the United States would be difficult and potentially dangerous.
- US: The Profound Joy of Pro Bono
24 August 2016 – Dialogue, American Bar Association Division for Legal Services
George Lewis, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, discusses why pro bono lawyers are his heroes. His favourite reasons include the fact that it always warms his heart to listen to them talk about why they derive joy from doing pro bono work.
- US: The Legacy of Lynching, On Death Row
22 August 2016 – The New Yorker
The Equal Justice Initiative guarantees legal representation to every inmate on Alabama’s death row. Over the decades, it has handled hundreds of capital cases, and has spared 125 offenders from execution. In recent years, its founder Bryan Stevenson has also argued the appeals of prisoners around the country who were convicted of various crimes as juveniles and given long sentences or life in prison. A memorial will also commemorate some 4000 lynching victims in 12 states.
- US: Zero Hours Billed? No Problem for These First-Year Associates [subscription]
18 August 2016 – The American Lawyer
Christine Bass is a first-year associate. To date, she hasn’t billed a single hour of work. That’s because she’s part of a program at DLA Piper that lets two new associates spend their entire first year at the firm working exclusively on pro bono matters while still getting paid like all other first-years. There are variations of the DLA Piper program at other firms, including Hogan Lovells, which lets first-year associates spend four months dedicated to pro bono and at all times has a senior associate in an 18-month pro bono-only rotation.
- Ashurst released its global pro bono and corporate responsibility report (FY 2015/16)
The Report details Ashurst’s commitment to creating a world leading pro bono practice. This commitment is encapsulated in Managing Partner, Paul Jenkin’s statement ‘We believe all individuals should be able to have access to the legal system to protect or assert their rights, irrespective of their financial situation. This belief is at the heart of our global pro bono practice, ensuring that we focus our efforts where access might otherwise be denied’.