Should “low-bono” work count as “pro bono”? Should “pro bono” include work done for clients operating for profit?
These important questions and others around the definition of “pro bono legal services” are open for public discussion in National Pro Bono Aspirational Target: The Target at Ten Years, a paper released by the Centre to mark a decade of the Target.
The focus of this conference continues to be on education and empowerment with a significant number of students attending particularly from the University of Malaya, but also students from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and the University of Newcastle. Staff and students from the law faculties of the Universities from the region and NGOs made up about 20-25 per cent of the audience. This, together with the many lawyers from less developed countries in the region and its participatory style gives this conference a unique informality and dynamism.
Located in North-Eastern NSW, Moree and Walgett are small outback towns with a rich Indigenous and colonial history. Regrettably, Indigenous disadvantage persists in the region to this day, particularly in relation to housing conditions. On a single street in Moree, issues ranged from black mould in a leaking bathroom or a shower with no floor, to exposed and dangerous electrical fittings, and an elderly woman living without a functioning stove.
It was fitting that the 2017 Global Pro Bono Forum (16-19 October 2017) was held in the place where PILnet established its first European clearing house in 2006. Celebrating 20 years since its inception, PILnet staged a forum that brought together many committed and talented public interest lawyers and pro bono enthusiasts to deliver an informative, thought-provoking and inspiring event. Notable was the depth of knowledge and experience of presenters.
The conference was held against the backdrop of pressing issues in Hungary concerning defence of the public interest and respect for the rule of law.
Congratulations to the pro bono team at Arnold Bloch Leibler on winning the 2017 Lawyers Weekly Pro Bono Program of the Year Award. We asked ABL public interest law partner Peter Seidel to tell us about the firm’s pro bono program. This article kicks off a new series of Q&A pieces focusing on some of the outstanding pro bono programs run by National Pro Bono Aspirational Target signatories, as part of the Target’s ten-year anniversary celebrations. ABL are a Foundation Signatory to the Target.
“Our pro bono work is a natural extension of our organisation’s commitment to sustainability, diversity and inclusion. The idea that shared value is created through contribution to our communities is fundamental to how we operate. In some ways, our pro bono work is simply another expression of that principle. The shared value for our organisation and for the organisations we support through pro bono work is mutually reinforcing.”