Welcome to the August 2017 issue of AUSTRALIAN PRO BONO NEWS, the Centre’s monthly newsletter providing stories and articles of interest to the Australian pro bono community.
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3 August 2017
This evening the Centre will be launching a new Guide for In-House Corporate Lawyers at an event at the Law Society of NSW.
The Guide has been prepared by the Centre in partnership with the Corporate Lawyers Committee of the Law Society of New South Wales and the Association of Corporate Counsel. Titled Pro Bono Legal Work: A guide for in-house corporate lawyers, it builds on two previous similar guides published by DLA Piper in April 2009 and August 2013.
There has been a slow growth in in-house lawyers undertaking pro bono legal work in Australia since 2009 when PI Insurance and practising certificate constraints started to be removed. Still, the current level of activity remains low compared to the contribution made by other sectors of the legal profession.
The Centre has been meeting with some of the larger legal in-house corporate teams and we have been encouraged by the welcome and support we’ve received in this initiative. In listening to the challenges and needs of corporates, it has become clear that thematic alignment between the focus of a company’s CSR program and the skills of its legal team is a vital component of any strategy likely to sustain an in-house legal program.
This is not to diminish the primary reason for establishing an in-house pro bono program, which is to support the professional responsibility of a corporate’s lawyers and promote access to justice work. There are some great examples of in-house lawyers already engaged in pro bono with bodies such as the Arts Law Centre, Cancer Council, Justice Connect, National Children’s and Youth Law Centre (NCYLC), Public interest Advocacy Centre’s (PIAC) Homeless Persons Legal Service, and Salvos Legal. All have been providing opportunities for in-house counsel to get involved and are a vital part of a successful in-house legal pro bono program.
With approximately 25% of the Australian legal profession working in-house, there is potential amongst this cohort for greater pro bono growth. As with the rest of the legal profession it is primarily a matter of attitude and culture.
The Centre will continue to meet with in-house teams at corporates, charities, and government to discuss, support and promote pro bono growth.
The new Guide will be available online from tomorrow at http://probonocentre.org.au/in-house-guide.