Issue 57: March 2010
Welcome to the March 2010 edition of the e-Newsletter of the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (the Centre). We welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas. In this edition, read about:
|Monday 17 May 2010 will be National Pro Bono Day, the first day of National Law Week 2010 which is likely to get better coverage this year due to the work of the inaugural National Law Week committee’s work. Other activities on this day are encouraged such as release of pro bono annual reports or other information about pro bono programs or activities. It should be a day of celebration!
The centerpiece of the day will be the Walk for Justice (WALK) now in its third year. It is confirmed to take place (so far ) in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide starting at 7am in all cities.
The WALK is a 3 – 5 km walk past key city legal landmarks which aims to raise awareness of unmet legal need in the community and raise funds to support the work of the pro bono clearing houses in each State and Territory. Registration for walkers and law firm teams will open soon through PILCH (VIC), PILCH (NSW), QPILCH and JusticeNet SA.
|Fiona McLeay started as the new Executive Director of PILCH (VIC) in February 2010. Fiona is well qualified for the position having been a solicitor at Phillips Fox in Sydney and then Clayton Utz in Melbourne where she created and was appointed to the position of Melbourne Pro Bono Coordinator as part of the firm’s National Pro Bono Scheme in 2000. Fiona has been a member of the Advisory Council of this Centre, the Board of PILCH (VIC) and the Board of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre as well as holding wide ranging positions at World Vision where she was appointed as General Counsel in 2006. Fiona also completed a masters of law at New York University in 2005 where she focused on public service law, including human rights and pro bono.
John Pinnock started as the new Executive Director of PILCH (NSW) in January 2010 having been the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman since 1995. In 2007 he was awarded the Telecommunications Industry Ambassador of the Year Award for his service to the Telecommunications Industry particularly for fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour and promoting best practice by industry. John led the TIO through a period of rapid growth and dynamic change.
|On 24 February 2010, the Centre released its research report into engaging retired, retiring and career break lawyers in pro bono. Some of its key recommendations include free practising certificates for “pro bono only” practitioners, better information collection by professional associations and a review of disbursement assistance schemes. The full report can be downloaded here.
|The SA Law Society estimates that SA lawyers last year provided $4.6 million worth of free or reduced fee work, $3.32 million of legal aid contributions and $2.24 million in honorary, community and law society duties – equating to approximately 53,000 hours of work. These results were based on a 20% response rate from the 3356 lawyers in South Australia. Averaged across all SA lawyers, this equates to about 7 hours per lawyer per annum of free or reduced fee legal work.
The survey also showed that SA lawyers are heavily involved in community organisations through which they volunteer their time.
Interestingly, the survey indicated that work undertaken by sole practitioners accounts for more than half of the profession’s entire contribution.
|An extensive research report of the legal needs of the people of the Mid North Coast region of NSW makes a strong case for the people of the region to have access to a community legal centre by 2011 at the latest. The area stretches from north of Newcastle to Coffs Harbour and has no community legal centres and only one legal aid office.
Supported by the Port Macquarie Hastings Council and the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW (LJF), researcher Catherine Peak examined indicators of disadvantage in context, conducted extensive consultations and analysed data from the LJF to reach such findings as:
The full report can be downloaded from the Port Macquarie Hastings Council website.
|The President of the NZ Law Society, Mr John Marshall recently called for the New Zealand government to look at the Australian model of linking pro bono work to government contracts.
A-G Chris Finlayson said, “It’s something I’ve started to talk about with the Solicitor-General and it’s personally an idea I’m quite attracted to.” Mr Marshall also urged the major firms to take more leadership on building up pro bono services.
In New Zealand, Chapman Tripp was the first to set up a formal pro bono programme in 2003 and now has about 50 clients. Other firms with structured pro bono programs in NZ mentioned were DLA Phillips Fox, Bell Gully and Russell McVeagh.
See news stories below in Pro Bono in the News.
|TrustLaw is an international vehicle for pro bono legal support and a hub of legal information, It is a project of the Thompson Reuters Foundation the charitable arm of leading news and information providers, Thomson Reuters. Trust Law Connect will provide a matchmaking service between NGOs, social entrepreneurs (and possibly government agencies) seeking pro bono help and law firm members willing to provide pro bono legal services. Membership is free but Trust Law vets all participants to offer quality on all sides.
The service will provide a case handler who collects information and ensures that requests are expressed in a correct way so as to seek legal advice. These opportunities will be placed on a website and notified to members in a weekly email.
Monique Villa, CEO of Thompson Reuters Foundation, based in London, says, “”With AlertNet, the foundation is already at the centre of the humanitarian world and many NGOs and social entrepreneurs are already members. The proper launch of TrustLaw Connect will take place mid-April but we already have started to do matching when urgent. The full TrustLaw website, a hub of news and information on anti-corruption, good governance and women’s rights, will be launched in June.”
A number of Australian firms have already sought membership and Australian case studies are sought.
For further information and to join see the Trust Law website.
|In recognition of the growing interest in animal law, Voiceless released an ‘Animal Law Toolkit’ in December 2009. The Toolkit outlines the diverse areas of law involved, provides examples of animal law cases, identifies issues relating to particular animals such as kangaroo culling or live export of animals and provides details of University courses on animal law which now exist at 9 of Australia’s 28 law schools.
The kit also provides a list of Australian Animal Lawyers, information on how to become more involved, additional reading and resources and a sample petition. The Toolkit is available for download from the Voiceless website.
|The WA Attorney General’s Community Service Law Award is an annual award designed to recognise the work of an individual legal practitioner who has made a pro bono contribution to benefit the Western Australian community.
Nominees must have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to working pro bono in a legal capacity for the community over an extended period of time.
Nominations must be received by 5pm Tuesday 6 April 2010. The Nomination Form is available here.
|Helen Campbell is leaving RLC after 8 years as its CEO to take up another opportunity in the sector and leaves big shoes to fill. A person with high level management, policy, advocacy and media skills and a commitment to social justice is sought to lead one of Australia’s foremost community legal centres. High level advocacy skills will be greatly valued.
Applications close Monday 15 March 20010
See http://www.rlc.org.au/jobs.html for details
|2010-03-05 The Australian
Pro bono with humanitarian bang for buck
To make a difference to humanity you need to get out of your comfort zone, according to Melbourne lawyer Kim Lovegrove, who has put his philosophy into practice with an alternative form of pro bono that stretches to Ethiopia.2010-02-25 The New Lawyer
Pro pro bono
Lawyers giving something for nothing? Peter Turner, chief executive of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association, looks at how and why in-house lawyers are taking on the pro bono cause.
2010-02-22 Otago Daily Times
2010-02-18 Lawyers Weekly Online
2010-02-17 The Daily Examiner
2010-02-16 iPRIME Taree
2010-01-30 Community Net
2010-01-21 Northside Chronicle
2009-12-14 Community Net
2009-12-14 Victoria Legal Aid
2009-12-10 ABC Riverland SA
2009-12-09 The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory