Welcome to the June 2013 edition of National Pro Bono News, from the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
We welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this edition, read about:
What Works provides a detailed yet accessible explanation of the current models used by collaborative partnerships to deliver pro bono legal assistance to encourage best practice. It discusses the benefits and challenges involved in using each model, highlights the features of effective projects using each model, and includes case studies that bring each model to life with real life experiences.
In addition to understanding the different models that are used as a vehicle for undertaking pro bono work, initial reviewers of the content have found What Works to be useful for:
• Finding out what drives different stakeholders to become involved in pro bono work so they can attract and maintain partnerships
• Providing support to those developing pro bono programs/practices with many examples/case studies of what others are doing
• Finding out about current issues affecting the delivery of pro bono legal assistance in Australia
• Finding out about the wide range of opportunities for becoming involved in pro bono legal work
“A concise and well thought out resource that provides a wonderful back up for pro bono lawyers and law firm pro bono coordinators who are guiding their firms towards developing strategic opportunities and more innovative pathways. I will be able to use this resource to demonstrate what is possible to achieve in pro bono.”
(Jillian Mitford-Burgess, Pro Bono Senior Associate at Henry Davis York)
“As a review of pro bono in Australia today, this guide goes into unparalleled detail to give an in-depth and genuine account of the state-of-play. It would be a mistake to think that it is only applicable to the Australian context though. Many of the lessons, challenges and tensions expressed in it are just as relevant in jurisdictions across the globe and are consistent with A4ID’s experience of brokering international pro bono to fight global poverty. I would encourage anybody with an interest in legal pro bono, whether as a provider or NGO looking to establish pro bono links, to read and digest it.” (Yasmin Batliwala, CEO of A4ID)
“This is a fascinating and helpful resource. It’s the first of its kind: combining quality research and analysis to produce a useful guide for the developing pro bono sector. Pro bono work is about helping people who cannot otherwise obtain the legal help they need and by sharing our successes and challenges we can improve the services we provide by learning from the experiences of others in the sector. It’s a great way to promote collaboration and collegiality in the sector.”
(Elizabeth O’Shea, National Coordinator, Social Justice Practice at Maurice Blackburn)
“What Works is an incredibly useful publication – it sets out why Pro Bono services are so fundamental to the NFP sector. For NFPs it gives an easy to understand guide on who is doing what and where to find help. Similarly for law firms who might be considering taking on pro bono work, it is a great guide as to what might be involved and what helps NFPs the most.”
(Katie Wood, Legal and Governance Manager at Amnesty International Australia)
What Works is available free of charge:
º via the internet;
º downloaded to a PC, laptop computer or Mac; or
º on an iPad or tablet.
This year’s Walk for Justice was the most successful to date, raising over $120,000 for pro bono clearing houses in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
This impressive figure was raised by over 2,000 friends of the clearing houses, who registered to brave the early morning May weather in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney and Townsville. In the six years since its inception, the Walk has steadily increased in attendance, coverage, sponsorship and money raised.
The first Walk for Justice, inspired by the London Legal Walk, was held in 2008 simultaneously in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. A little over $30,000 was raised that year, which may pale in comparison to this year’s figure but was nonetheless a welcome boost to the funds available to help people who needed but could not afford legal assistance. The particular value of these fundraising events is that, unlike most funding obtained by pro bono clearing houses, which is earmarked for particular projects and services, the money can be flexibly allocated on a needs basis. For example in 2008 some of the funds raised were used by PILCH Victoria to purchase basic infrastructure that was vital for the running of the office, like a working photocopier.
For more coverage (and photos) click on the links below:
Walkers in Sydney from Lander & Rogers – the team that raised the most for PILCH NSW
Jodi Wauchope of Gadens receiving her award from Emma Donovan – courtesy Arts Law Centre © Claire Louise Laing
On 29 May 2013, the Arts Law Centre of Australia celebrated the pro bono work of lawyers around the country who give back through their pro bono work to the arts community.
For the last 9 years, Arts Law has commissioned a print to award to 30 lawyers celebrating their significant pro bono contribution. This year’s lino print titled “Dancing brolga” was created by Aboriginal artist Elliot Koonutta from Pormpuraaw Art Centre in Far North Queensland. For the first time, this year in addition to 28 lawyers from Arts Law’s pro bono panel, Arts Law also recognised two lawyers nominated by the arts community for their support and contributions.
Justice Margaret Beazley, President of NSW Court of Appeal and President of the Arts Law Centre of Australia and Aboriginal singer, Emma Donovan presented the winners with their award.
The winners were of the 2013 Arts Law Pro Bono Awards were Joel Barrett (Allens), Melanie Bouton (Herbert Smith Freehills), Elizabeth Burrows (Influence Legal), Chris Chow (Chris Chow Creative Lawyers), Stephen Digby (Digby Law), Jamie Doran (Clayton Utz), Stephanie Faulkner (Wrays Lawyers), Rebekah Gay (Shelston IP Lawyers), Katherine Giles (ABC Legal Services), Julia Godfrey (DLA Piper Australia), Emily Hawcroft (Minter Ellison), Julian Hewitt (Media Arts Lawyers), Brendan Hoffman (Gadens Lawyers), Luke Holmes (DLA Piper Australia), Raena Lea-Shannon (Entertainment Media Technology), Harold Littler (McKays Solicitors), Jose Perez (Perez Varela Lawyers), Stephanie Majteles (Rio Tinto), Ian Robertson (Holding Redlich), Melissa Sanghera (Herbert Smith Freehills), Darren Sanicki (GI & Sanicki Lawyers), Tiffany Stephenson (Department of Defence), Jeremy Storer (Storers Legal ), Michael Tucak (Creative Legal ), David Vodicka (Media Arts Lawyers), Jodie Wauchope (Gadens Lawyers), Clare Young (Allens), Tony Joyner, Rene Steffaniti and Matt O’Leary (Herbert Smith Freehills).
The winners of the Arts Community Award were Jonathan Feder (K&L Gates) and Nicholas Linke (Fisher Jeffries).
Lawyers interested in becoming part of the Arts Law Pro bono panel can read more here.
The Annual Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards announced during Law Week were announced by the Hon Justice Susan Crennan AC, of the High Court of Australia, a former Victorian Bar Chairman and namesake of one of the Awards.
The award recipients were:
• Paul Bingham for outstanding individual achievement in pro bono advocacy over a long period.
• Leanne Papaelia, who joined the bar in 2012, for work in a tenancy matter that involved a single mother with two children who had been evicted from public housing and was facing homelessness on her release from prison.
• Nick Wood who joined in bar in 2011
• Nola Karapanagiotidis for her outstanding work with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) which included, over the last 10 years, appearing on a pro bono basis for the ASRC in over 100 cases in the Federal Magistrates Court, Federal Court, Full Court and the High Court of Australia with successful outcomes in more than 50% of those cases.
• John Desmond and Richard Edney for their work in representing Mr Peter Dupas, one the States most reviled criminals, on his appeal in the Victorian Court of Criminal Appeal when no-one else would take on the matter. The case heralded an exceptional change to the landscape of Victorian precedents of Evidence law.
• Herman Borenstein SC, Dr Kris Hanscombe SC and Lachlan Armstrong were awarded the Public Interest/Justice Innovation Award for ‘pro bono work which has a strong public interest element or has involved procedural substantive innovation in the law likely to enhance access to justice’ – see Case study below
Fiona McLeod SC, Victorian Bar Chair said “We have one of the highest participation rates in the country, and a long tradition of leadership in pro bono we can be proud of … Victorian barristers together provide several millions of dollars of free legal services through the formal pro bono program administered by PILCH, and the Duty Barristers Scheme which sees barristers stationed at courts around the State in a bid to ensure proper representation for those without any.” She described the award recipients as “inspirational people, that exemplify the value of an independent bar”.
The Victorian Bar Media Release can be read here.
On 10 May 2013, the High Court of Australia refused an application for special leave made by the Commonwealth to appeal against the decision of the Full Federal Court, which found in December 2012 that the use of the Business Service Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) unlawfully discriminated against people with a disability. The Full Federal Court had overturned the decision of a single Federal Court judge and the Commonwealth sought to appeal. The refusal to grant special leave brought to an end a case first filed over four years ago and was a source of policy dispute for a lot longer. Many pro bono hours have been spent on this case.
The outcome had an impact on approximately 20,000 Australian workers with disabilities. Two intellectually and physically disabled men, Gordon Prior and Michael Nojin, successfully argued they were discriminated against. Both filed claims in the Federal Court in February 2009 alleging unlawful discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Prior, from Victoria, is legally blind and has a mild-to-moderate intellectual disability. Stawell Intertwine Services Inc, an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE), assessed him under the BSWAT and paid him $3.82 per hour to maintain gardens. Nojin, from NSW, has cerebral palsy, a moderate intellectual disability and epilepsy. He earned $1.85 an hour destroying documents for ADE Coffs Harbour Challenge Inc. Nojin’s BSWAT re-assessment was actually $1.79 per hour but because of a clause in the Award which forbid a decrease in wages as a result of undergoing an assessment using an approved wage assessment tool his wage remained at $1.85.
The BSWAT tool was developed specifically for the purpose of assessing the wages of disabled persons employed in ADEs, while a fairer scheme (the Supported Wage System) applies to people with disabilities working in open employment. BSWAT had the approval of the Commonwealth, and was supported by the employers generally and in ADEs.
The case was spearheaded by Kairsty Wilson, Legal Manager at the AED Legal Centre in Victoria (established in 2008 by the Association of Employees with Disability Inc) and supported by a remarkable team of pro bono lawyers from AED Legal, Holding Redlich and the Victorian Bar working on the litigation since 2009.
Members of the Victorian Bar who undertook many hours of work on this case going right back to 2004, and are to be thanked are: Herman Borenstein SC; Dr Kris Hanscombe SC; Lachlan Armstrong, and Kate Bowshell. Their work in this matter has been recognised by the Victorian Bar with the Public Interest/Justice Innovation Award for ‘pro bono work which has a strong public interest element or has involved procedural substantive innovation in the law likely to enhance access to justice. See story below.
The lawyers at Holding Redlich that have contributed many hours of pro bono work on this matter are also to be thanked, particularly lawyers Fiona Knowles (now at the Fair Work Ombudsman), Jarod Sacks, and partner, David Shaw.
At an event recently hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney, a young Vietnamese law lecturer spoke of his experiences in Vietnam and what he has learnt as an intern at his ten week placement at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre (UNLC). The lunch time discussion, which included some Sydney based Vietnamese lawyers, focussed on differences between the Australian and Vietnamese legal systems and what might be useful by way of pro bono legal support at his University in Vietnam.
Courtesy of Chris Gleisner/NSW Law Society Journal
Lâm Bá Khánh Toàn, a law lecturer from Can Tho University, Vietnam, (about 100 km south of Ho Chi Minh City) was placed at the UNLC to observe clinical legal education (CLE) in action with the support of Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEA CLE). BABSEA CLE has been working collaboratively with universities, law students, law faculties, lawyers, members of the legal community, and justice related organizational partners since 2003 to develop CLE programs throughout Southeast Asia. This year it launched BABSEA CLE (Australia) to further its work in Australia. Another Vietnamese law lecturer, from Hue University, is currently placed at the Monash-Oakleigh Legal Service in Melbourne, and three other Vietnamese interns were placed in Australia this past year.
Can Tho University is currently in the process of strengthening its relatively newly established CLE program which amongst other things involves law students participating in community teaching/legal literacy; and in the near future, obtaining supervised practical legal experience at community legal centres. During his placement, Toan observed the day-to-day activities at UNCL, including client advice sessions and accompanied law students to Court – experience which he will use to implement new CLE ideas and developments at Can Tho University on his return home.
He noted some of the key differences between the role of lawyers in Australia and Vietnam:
As to what help might be provided, Toan suggested that having Vietnamese-speaking lawyers (or law graduates from Australian Universities) visiting his university and speaking to the students would be of great value.
There will be a further exchange as to how Australian lawyers might provide pro bono legal assistance in Vietnam and other South East Asian countries at the 2nd South East Asia Pro Bono Conference to be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on 11 and 12 October 2013. For further details about this conference and to register click here.
The website includes featured projects, signature projects, pro bono collaborations with corporate clients and NGOs, pro bono internships available in various offices around the world, and details about New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s dedicated non profit affiliate founded in 2005 to provide pro bono legal assistance primarily in less developed and post-conflict countries.
The following web pages have recently been updated on the Centres website:
Check out Social Justice Opportunities for information on finding a job or volunteering in the social justice sector. The website includes a ‘Latest Opportunities‘ section, which provides a list of current jobs and volunteering opportunities around the country.
Articles of interest to the pro bono community from May to June 2013. Click through to read any news article in full.
20 June 2013 – Lawyers Weekly
Thirty lawyers from across Australia were recognised for their contribution to the Arts at this year’s Arts Law Pro Bono Awards. K&L Gates IP partner Jonathan Feder was the recipient of the Arts Community Award and joined 29 other lawyers who were recognised for their pro bono work for the Arts at a ceremony in Sydney last month (29 May).
17 June 2013 – Daily Telegraph
14 June 2013 – Sydney Morning Herald
14 June 2013 – Bendigo Advertiser
6 June 2013 – Lawyers Weekly
24 May 2013 – PM (ABC News)
24 May 2013 – Sydney Morning Herald
20 May 2013 – ABC News
17 May 2013 – Sydney Morning Herald
15 May 2013 – The Age
15 May 2013 – ABC News
15 May 2013 – Attorney-General of Queensland
10 May 2013 – The Australian
10 May 2013 – The Age
Victoria Legal Aid is restoring funding for solicitors, temporarily ending an impasse in the justice system that threatened to stall dozens of serious criminal trials. But managing director Bevan Warner warned that this was ”not financially sustainable” and would be revisited later this year. The body made the widest-ranging cuts to legal aid grants in its history in January to save money ahead of a more than $3.1M loss.
19 June 2013 – New York Law Journal
The hours of pro bono work and the financial contributions to groups providing legal services to the poor that lawyers must report on their biannual registration forms will be available to anyone who requests them. “It is our responsibility to give it out,” Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in a recent interview. “If someone asks for the information, they can have it.”
19 June 2013 – – New York Law Journal
13 June 2013 – Who’s Who Legal
3 June 2013 – Daily Report (Law.com)
29 May 2013 – Wall Street Journal: Law Blog
29 May 2013 – Harvard Law School News and Spotlights
27 May 2013 – The New Zealand Herald
27 May 2013 – Canadian Lawyer
24 May 2013 – LawFuel / Bell Gully
20 May 2013 – Stockhouse / Infinity Medical Group Inc
16 May 2013 – Thomson Reuters News & Insight
14 May 2013 – New York Law Journal
Mandating disclosure of pro bono hours and how much money lawyers pay to pro bono providers on the biennial registration statement is unlikely to serve its intended purpose of increasing free legal services to those needing them, for the simple reason that most firms in New York are small operations or solo practitioners, who are already stretched to the limit and depend on clients to pay their bills.
14 May 2013 – The Independent