Issue 98: May 2015
Welcome to the May 2015 edition of National Pro Bono News, celebrating the Walk for Justice, from the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
We welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this edition, read about:
Walkers at the Brisbane Legal Walk 2014
The Walk for Justice (or Queensland Legal Walk in Queensland) is only days away. If you live in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia or Victoria, this is your last chance to register for the Walk and support your local pro bono referral organisation.
Details for the Walk in your town, including a link to register, are listed below:
For those who haven’t been on a Walk before, you should know that this isn’t a fitness challenge. Instead, it’s a leisurely stroll with other like-minded people around your town before work or uni. If the early morning is too daunting you can always sponsor a walker or team from your pro bono referral organisation instead (details can be found in the links above).
All the Centre’s staff and interns will be walking in Sydney on Tuesday – look out for our white t-shirts and come say “hi!”
The Centre is pleased to announce its new relationship with the Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA), a membership association that promotes sustainability across the legal sector and has been facilitating reporting on environmental sustainability for law firms since 2010.
On 29 April 2015 the Centre and AusLSA issued a Joint Statement announcing the details of their new relationship. In recognition of the important role that the provision of pro bono legal services plays within a law firm’s broader sustainability program, AusLSA plans to incorporate pro bono into its reporting framework from FY2016. The Centre will support AusLSA with expert advice on pro bono legal services as part of this relationship.
As outlined in the Joint Statement, in order to incorporate pro bono into its sustainability reporting framework AusLSA will ask its members to indicate if they are a signatory to the Centre’s National Pro Bono Aspirational Target (from FY2016) and if they have met the Target (from FY2017). No confidential information held by either organisation will be shared.
It is a packed season for conferences of interest to the pro bono community. In the next few months there are:
It is only a month until the biennial National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference, which is held every two years. This year’s Conference is hosted by the Centre, the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of NSW, and will be held at Sheraton on the Park in Sydney on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th June 2015, with a Welcome Drinks on the night before. Registrations are now open.
In our March issue we announced a range of speakers from across Australia and the world, and more have now been announced. For a list of confirmed speakers, the program and other details, please refer to the Conference website at www.a2j15.com.au.
You can now register for the 2nd Annual PILnet Asia Pro Bono Forum, which will be held at the Sukosol Bangkok in Thailand from Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th June 2015.
The central theme of this year’s Forum is “Pro Bono for Development and Justice”. The Forum will consist of panel discussions as well as a total of 16 workshops organized in three streams: issues, regional experience, and know-how.
These workshops will include: In-depth discussion on pro bono projects in the issue areas of women and children, migrant workers, trafficking in persons, refugees, LGBTI, environmental rights; Sharing of progress and challenges in growing pro bono in Thailand and other ASEAN countries, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, and the Middle East; Know-how sessions including how to start a pro bono program within your firm, how in-house counsel can do pro bono, how to assess social enterprises, and how to work with universities and law students.
For more information and to register, please click here.
The 3rd National Rural Law and Justice Conference will be held at Charles Sturt University in Orange, NSW on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July, 2015. The Conference is hosted by the National Rural Law and Justice Alliance, of which the Centre is a member. The theme of the Conference is ‘Reframing Rurality: Driving Innovation in Rural Justice’.
The Conference will be opened by the Hon. Chris Kourakis, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia (and Patron of the National Rural Law and Justice Alliance) and will showcase innovation in justice and legal service outcomes for regional, rural and remote Australia. The aim of the conference is to rethink ways of improving access to justice for all Australians, providing the opportunity to discuss the challenges, prospects and future focus to achieve equal access to justice across Australia. The Centre will be presenting a paper on “Pro Bono Legal Services via Video Conferencing: Opportunities and Challenges”.
Previous Conferences have brought together lawyers, community workers, academics, business people and others involved in improving access to justice in regional, rural and remote Australia throughout Australia and the world.
For more information (including a draft program) or to register, please click here.
Following its successful introduction last year, this year’s National Community Legal Centres Conference will feature another plenary of twelve speakers from CLCs providing TED-inspired talks. This year they will provide examples on the successful use of client or worker stories to resolve an issue, heal or empower individuals and/or communities or advocate for change at an individual or systemic level.
The Conference will be held at Pullman on the Park in Melbourne from Tuesday 25th to Thursday 27th August 2015. It provides a great opportunitity to find out about the work CLCs do and discover successful projects and potential partnerships in the sector.
For more information, incldufing registration details, please click here.
In our last issue we provided further details of the 4th Annual Asia Pro Bono Conference (to be held at Mandalay University, Myanamar from Thurs 3rd to Saturday 5th September) & Legal Ethics Forum (Yadanabon University, Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday 6th September).
For further information or to register, please click here.
Tucked away in the Pro Bono Institute’s annual conference in Washington DC earlier this year, was a session entitled Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Pro Bono Leadership Succession Planning. Despite being an important topic, succession planning is too often left on the back burner when there is no immediate call for it. Yet now is exactly the right time to plan for the next generation of pro bono leadership if law firm pro bono is to continue to thrive in Australia.
Most session participants agreed that succession planning was crucial, but several wanted ideas on how to introduce this topic to firm management. One concern expressed was that talking about succession planning might be misinterpreted as a sign that the incumbent leader is planning to leave the firm soon, when this is not the case.
To avoid this potentially awkward situation, and as a starting point to discussing succession planning, there are some basic steps that will help:
What is the role?
Awareness of pro bono leadership role
Identifying future leaders
Alignment with firm’s succession plan
Integration with firm’s strategic direction
Annette Bain is the former Head of Pro Bono and Community at Herbert Smith Freehills, and now an international pro bono advisor.
In November 2014, global legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright became a signatory to the Centre’s National Pro Bono Aspirational Target in Australia. Pro bono is one of the five pillars of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Australian Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, together with charitable giving, reconciliation, environmental sustainability and volunteering.
This month we spoke with Jackie O’Brien, National Pro Bono Partner and Leanne Collingburn, National Pro Bono Executive, about Norton Rose Fulbright’s National Pro Bono Practice which was relaunched in August 2014, with Leanne being appointed to support Jackie.
Both Jackie and Leanne have a strong passion for and proven commitment to CSR. Jackie has dedicated over 30 years of practice to CSR initiatives culminating in her being named the “2014 Partner of Year” by legal industry publication Lawyers Weekly. Leanne’s legal background includes Indigenous Land Law and she has worked closely with Indigenous people and communities in both Australia and Canada. Leanne is a proud member of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group. She is also former chairperson of the practice’s Indigenous Law group and the Charity Committee for the Brisbane office.
“It is a really exciting time to be part of the leadership team for Norton Rose Fulbright’s pro bono practice. We have assembled a great team of dedicated and talented coordinators to encourage and direct the business’s pro bono efforts Australia wide,” said Jackie.
Over the past two years Norton Rose Fulbright in Australia has more than doubled its pro bono hours and is on track to further increase its pro bono hours again this financial year. To assist Jackie and Leanne with a rapidly growing practice, Pro Bono Coordinators have now also been appointed in the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth offices.
“We have found that the key to growing our pro bono practice has been to give our lawyers ownership of the program. Lawyers are encouraged to bring new pro bono matters to the business through existing relationships they have with not-for-profit organisations, charities and disadvantaged members of the community,” said Leanne.
“As a result of this focus on staff ownership and engagement, Norton Rose Fulbright has worked on some incredibly innovative pro bono projects this past financial year, reaching out to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. These projects include a large research project with the Aboriginal Legal Service which will indirectly assist thousands of Aboriginal people in regional, rural and remote communities. Another project includes the development of a much needed form filling and information session with MDA Ltd and Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) in Brisbane and with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in Melbourne.”
This year, Norton Rose Fulbright has also placed a number of lawyers on secondment with a range of organisations including the Refugees Advice and Casework Service (RACS) in Sydney; RAILS in Brisbane; ASRC in Melbourne; and an Aboriginal corporation through the business’s partnership with Jawun, a non-profit organisation that supports innovative programs of economic and social change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s people are also being increasingly recognised for their contribution to CSR and in particular pro bono. In addition to Jackie’s Partner of the Year Award, Australian practice leader Wayne Spanner received the prestigious Managing Partner of the Year Award from Lawyers Weekly for the transformational role he has played in the elevation of Norton Rose Fulbright to a global stage, and the real progress the business has made in CSR and diversity and inclusion.
The practice has also had two pro bono award finalists this past financial year: Mia Clarebrough for the 2014 Lawyers Weekly Pro Bono Award and Claire Schneider for the 2014 Women in Law Pro Bono award.
“The recognition our lawyers are receiving for the important pro bono contributions they make is a source of great pride for Norton Rose Fulbright,” said Jackie.
We look forward to hearing more about Norton Rose Fulbright’s pro bono successes as its pro bono contribution continues to grow.
Nominations for the inaugural National Rural Law and Justice Innovation Awards are now open, and will close at the end of this month (31 May 2015). The Awards are a joint initiative of the National Rural Law and Justice Alliance, of which the Centre is a member, and Deakin University’s Centre for Rural Regional Law and Justice. They are intended to “acknowledge excellent and innovative work that helps to promote better access to law and justice for people in regional, rural and remote Australia.”
These Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate and promote the often overlooked work by organisations that are finding innovative ways to provide access to justice in regional, rural and remote areas.
There are three Awards on offer:
Innovation in Rural and Regional Legal Practice
Innovation in Rural and Regional Community Justice
Transformative Use of Technology in the Law
The judging panel will be announced shortly, and the Awards will be presented at the 3rd National Rural Law and Justice Conference (see above) on 3rd July. For more details and the online nomination form, please visit nrlja.org.au/conference/awards.
This semester the Centre is delighted to welcome Julie Tran and Vilaasini Jeyasothy as our new interns.
The Centre accepts six interns annually through the University of New South Wales Law School’s Social Justice Internship Program, as well as limited numbers of legal and non-legal volunteers from outside the University. Student interns are given the opportunity to understand the barriers preventing the effective delivery of pro bono services and contribute to policy and law reform work to address these. Currently the interns are assisting us with research and editing tasks for the Centre’s update of the ‘Australian Pro Bono Manual’, which is planned for release later this year.
Vilaasini comes to us during her final year of studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and a Bachelor of Law at the University of New South Wales. She has previously interned at the Human Rights Centre, where she wrote a technical note on the rights of all migrants, irrespective of their migration status, for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR). Following her passion for social justice and human rights, she has also interned at Redfern Legal Centre where she contributed to effectively improving equal access to legal services.
Our other intern, Julie, is a final year student completing a Bachelor of International Studies/Law at the University of New South Wales. She joined the Centre with a view to developing a better understanding of how effective pro bono services can be delivered to communities in need. Julie discovered her interest in access to justice while volunteering as a junior clerk at the Kingsford Legal Centre where she assisted solicitors in providing free legal advice and assistance to disadvantaged clients. Having observed a number of barriers to justice such as high legal costs and a lack of education on legal rights, Julie’s goal is to help tackle these barriers through her work at the Centre.
Vilaasini Jeyasothy (left) and Julie Tran
In honour of the Walk for Justice, this issue we decided to look at JusticeNet SA, Justice Connect and QPILCH.
As at the date of publication of the most recent National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey of Australian firms with fifty or more lawyers (December 2014), 33 of the 55 largest firms in Australia were members of at least one of these membership-based pro bono referral organisations (PBROs), including all eight firms with more than 450 lawyers. This means that each firm pays a membership fee, calculated in reference to the number of its partners.
Membership not only provides much-needed financial support to the PBROs, but also allows firms to have a say in their management and priorities, and means that they can participate in clinics and be provided with direct referrals.* PBROs provide a valuable triage service, accepting and assessing applications for assistance from individual clients, community legal centres and other not-for-profit organisations. They can assess each potential client’s means and the merits of their matter and determine whether legal assistance can be obtained anywhere else.
Each PBRO also manages a number of clinics (including those devoted to self-represented litigants and the homeless) which can help firms provide opportunities to their lawyers to provide pro bono assistance with a defined schedule.
In other states and territories Law Societies have their own Pro Bono Clearing Houses or referral schemes, which can also provide a triage system (for the contact details of all PBROS, clearing houses and referral schemes in Australia click here). In Western Australia, Law Access is moving from being a scheme managed by the Law Society of Western Australia to becoming an organisation in its own right (for more information, see the February 2015 issue of National Pro Bono News).
In the last Survey, 34 firms had received referrals from at least one PBRO, clearing house or referral scheme (of 41 respondents to the Survey).
For a comprehensive breakdown of these figures, including by size of firm, please refer to page 45 of the National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey of Australian firms with fifty or more lawyers. For all individual response refer to pages 88.
* The Queensland Law Society and Law Institute of Victoria’s pro bono referral schemes are operated by QPILCH and Justice Connect, respectively. In those states law firms can receive referrals via the law society scheme without becoming a member of the managing PBRO.
Social Justice Opportunities (www.sjopps.net.au) is not only a practical guide to the steps you need to take to find a job or volunteer position in the social justice sector. It also includes a listing of current employment and volunteering opportunities, in the ‘Latest Opportunities’ section.
Whether you are a student, new lawyer or anyone else looking to volunteer or work in the sector, you can keep abreast of all the latest opportunities by visiting the site regularly, or by joining more than 1,700 people following @SJOpps on Twitter or more than 1,400 liking us on Facebook.
If you would like to advertise a social justice job or volunteer position on the site, particularly one aimed at law students or new lawyers, please email us for details. It’s easy and free!
Please also contact us with any feedback you have, or let us know how the site has helped you!
Here’s what’s going on in the Twitter feed right now:
Articles of interest to the pro bono community since Issue 97 of National Pro Bono News (April 2015). Click through to read any news article in full.
Please note that National Pro Bono News is moving from publication at the end of the month to the start of the month. On this basis, there have only been two weeks since the last issue, meaning that there are fewer stories below than usual.
7 May 2015 – Australasian Lawyer
Many in-house teams are interested in undertaking pro bono work, but face obstacles when it comes to establishing a pro bono practice. In response, in-house lawyers are increasingly teaming up with law firms on pro bono matters … In the 2014 financial year, 27 percent of firms surveyed by the National Pro Bono Resource Centre reported working with the in-house counsel of their corporate clients on pro bono matters or projects.
5 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
1 May 2015 – Lawyers Weekly
29 April 2015 – The Age
29 April 2015 – Soweto Live
30 April 2015 – Who’s Who Legal
30 April 2015 – South Bend Tribune
27 April 2015 – Inside Counsel