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Issue 88: May 2014
Welcome to the May 2014 edition of National Pro Bono News, from the National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
We welcome your feedback/contributions/ideas – please email email@example.com.
In this edition, read about:
On 19 May 2014, the QPILCH Townsville office was officially opened by the Member for Herbert, Ewan Jones on behalf of Commonwealth Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC. The Honourable Justice David North, Supreme Court of Queensland northern judge, hosted the function, which was well-attended by members of the Townsville legal profession. The first managing solicitor of the office is David Maunsell, a past partner of Gadens, originally from Brisbane.
The Centre’s office is in the Supreme and District Court building where it is already providing a self-representation service assisted by law students from the James Cook University. The Centre intends to move soon to premises in the Townsville business district to be shared with the Women’s Legal Service and ATSIWLS, Townsville.
Townsville has five community legal services (Townsville Community Legal Service, Women’s Legal Service, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Legal Service, Family Violence Protection Unit and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service) and QPILCH intends to work closely with them.
The service aims to establish its referral service and a mental health law clinic to add to the already established self-representation service and homeless persons’ legal clinic. The service will seek to involve as many as possible local practitioners in its service delivery but also leverage from the expertise that existing QPILCH members can provide including its national and international law firm members. The service has been established with funding from the Commonwealth Government.
Townsville has a population of 190,000 persons which is growing at about 2.4% per annum. It is the largest regional city in Queensland outside of the SE corner of Queensland.
(L-R) Mr Ewen Jones MP, Federal Member for Herbert, Cr Jenny Hill, Mayor of Townsville, Mr David Maunsell,
Townsville Managing Solicitor, QPILCH & The Honourable Justice David North, Supreme Court of Queensland
The Centre submitted its response to the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Access to Justice Arrangements on 21 May 2014, supporting many of the draft recommendations made by the Commission that suggest measures to remove constraints and barriers to pro bono legal work being done by Australian lawyers.
The draft recommendations of the Productivity Commission supported by the Centre include a right for parties represented on a pro bono basis in litigation to seek an award for costs. In relation to the issue of the destination of any costs awarded, the Centre has suggested the development of a self-regulatory protocol to which law firms would subscribe. This would formalise what is already a common practice of using costs recovered to offer to pay counsel’s fees, and the remainder being directed back into the firm’s pro bono practice, or donated to a charity or community organisation of choice. The Centre takes the view that both these matters are important to more clearly distinguish pro bono matters from those done on a no-win no-fee basis.
Other supported recommendations by the Commission include allowing holders of all classes of practising certificate to work on a volunteer basis, the availability of free ‘volunteer practising certificates’ in all jurisdictions to enable retired or career-break lawyers to provide pro bono services either through a Community Legal Centre or a project approved by the National Pro Bono Resource Centre, and granting protective costs orders to parties involved in matters of public interest against the government. The Centre also supports the recommendation that other governments follow the Victorian and Commonwealth government’s lead, and include a pro bono aspirational target as part of the requirement for firms to tender for government legal work.
After consulting law firms with 50 or more lawyers, the Centre pointed out some of the practical difficulties relating to the suggestion that the Victorian government’s ‘pro bono coordinator’ role could be adopted by various industries (e.g. banking, telecommunications) to coordinate requests from firms for clearance of conflict of interest matters. The Centre relayed the feedback it received from firms about the difficulties associated with having an industry pro bono coordinator and the impact the role could have on the established relationships between the firm and its client.
In its response to various other information requests relating to these draft recommendations, the Centre emphasised the:
The full text of the Centre’s submission is available here.
Also refer to the ‘Pro bono services’ chapter of the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report (Chap 23) for more details. See also the chapters on ‘Costs awards’ (Chap 13) and ‘Court and tribunal fees’ (Chap 16)
The Centre will be participating in the Commissions’ public hearings in Sydney on 3 June 2014. For more information, please refer to the Productivity Commission’s website.
The Walk for Justice this year was another stunning success, with the legal community in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria raising well over $120,000 for JusticeNet SA, Justice Connect and QPILCH.
On National Pro Bono Day, 13 May 2014, more than 2,000 people walked in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns Mackay, Melbourne, Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Sydney and Townsville.
In its seventh year the Walk for Justice continues to succeed as not only a significant fundraiser for the work of pro bono referral organisations, with funds raised that can be earmarked for projects that may otherwise struggle to find funding, but also as a chance for the legal community to come together and celebrate the work of the sector.
Walkers at the Brisbane Legal Walk 2014
Over $50,000 was raised in Queensland by 900+ walkers, with a large proportion of funds going to the QPILCH disbursement fund. Congratulations go to North Quarter Lane Chambers, Clayton Utz, Carbolic Group Chambers and Bernadette Farnell, who were the highest fundraisers for the Queensland Legal Walk, and to Ashurst, QUT, the Queensland Courts, Herbert Smith Freehills, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, the Queensland Attorney-General’s Department and Queensland Law Society, who fielded the largest teams.
The Honourable Chris Kourakis, Chief Justice of South Australia, The Honourable John Rau MP,
Attorney-General of South Australia and Tim Graham, Executive Director of JusticeNet SA
In South Australia the Walk was opened by the South Australian Attorney-General, the Honourable John Rau. Nearly $42,000 was raised for JusticeNet SA, with Chief Justice Kourakis presenting the Walk for Justice Cup to Lipman Karas, who raised $6,965 as a team, and an iPad mini to Katrina Bochner, who was the highest individual fundraiser ($1,945).
Walkers at the Melbourne Walk for Justice 2014
More than 900 people registered to take part in the Walk for Justice in Victoria and New South Wales. The Walk in NSW highlighted Justice Connect’s MOSAIC service, and in Melbourne focussed attention on the Homeless Law program. Minter Ellison fielded the largest team in Sydney (33 staff) and Arnold Bloch Leibler and the University of Melbourne Law School (72 students) were the leaders in Melbourne.
Walkers from Shine Lawyers at the Sydney Walk for Justice 2014
Walkers from Australian Catholic University at the Sydney Walk for Justice 2014
Walkers from Gilbert + Tobin at the Sydney Walk for Justice 2014
Staff and interns – past and present – from the National Pro Bono Resource Centre at the Sydney Walk for Justice 2014
“Lady Justice” at the Sydney
Walk for Justice 2014
Nominations are now open for the 2014 Justice Awards, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, and will close 30 June 2014.
Each year the Centre sponsors the Pro Bono Partnership Award, presented to a partnership comprising a private law firm, community organisation and/or community legal centre in NSW which has developed an outstanding pro bono legal assistance relationship, resulting in improved access to justice for disadvantaged people in the community. The Pro Bono Partnership Award judging panel is seeking nominations that address the following selection criteria, in order of importance:
What aspects of the relationship and the assistance provided are innovative, unique or exceptional? For example, in relation to:
♦ the forms of pro bono assistance provided, or
♦ reaching a particular community, or
♦ meeting a legal need that would not otherwise have been met, or
To what extent has the partnership led to the better delivery of services to members of the community?
How long has the partnership been in place?
Please note that two referees are required who can demonstrate/comment on the partnership.
The Awards will be presented on 29 October 2014 at the Strangers’ Dining Room, NSW Parliament House. This year the Law and Justice Address will be delivered by Dr Rhonda Galbally AO, and seven Awards will be presented:
The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre and King & Wood Mallesons are pleased to announce the 2014 Children’s Law Awards open and are calling for nominations. Nominations close 13 June 2014.
The Awards recognise the achievements and commitment of those individuals and organisations that advance the legal rights and interests of children and young people across Australia, and present a unique opportunity to highlight the important legal issues confronting children and young people, and serve as a means to focus the Australian community on the need to continually promote and advocate for children’s legal rights.
The Children’s Law Awards were last presented by the NCYLC in 2012 at King & Wood Mallesons’ office in Melbourne. The Awards have been held biennially since 2010, reflecting the importance of these issues in contemporary Australia. More information about the 2012 Awards ceremony and category winners can be found on the NCYLC website at www.ncylc.org.au.
The Awards will this year be presented at King & Wood Mallesons’ Sydney office on 5 September 2014.
Nominations for the 2014 Children’s Law Awards are sought in the following Award categories:
Nomination forms for the 2014 Children’s Law Awards can be found on the NCYLC website: www.ncylc.org.au.
Check out Social Justice Opportunities (www.sjopps.net.au) 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 employment and volunteering opportunities around the country- as of today, there are more than thirty jobs, PLT placements and internships listed.
To keep abreast of all the latest opportunities you can join almost 1,400 people following @SJOpps on Twitter or you can like 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!
Here’s what’s going on in the Twitter feed right now:
Articles of interest to the pro bono community from April – May 2014. Click through to read any news article in full.
5 Minutes with Stephanie Puris, recipient of The College of Law Pro Bono Award
26 May 2014 – Insights, The College of Law
21 May 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
Bedside legal aid for family violence victims at the Alfred
20 May 2014 – The Herald Sun
19 May 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
Legal aid funding slashed again [paywall]
16 May 2014 – Australian Financial Review
Lawyers on a (power) walk for justice
15 May 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
14 May 2014 – Lawyers Weekly
South Australia’s judiciary use their feet to raise money for free legal aid
13 May 2014 – The Adelaide Advertiser
25 Years On… Volunteering in 2014
13 May 2014 – Pro Bono Australia
Pro bono legal help levels playing field for Hong Kong NGOs
26 May 2014 – South China Morning Post
Pro bono legal work can help advance social justice in Hong Kong
23 May 2014 – South China Morning Post
Building A Culture Of Pro Bono In Nigeria
12 May 2014 – The Nigerian Observer
Lawyers Support Lagos Pro Bono Scheme
2 May 2014 – CAJ News Agency via AllAfrica
BigLaw Shows Pro Bono’s Not Just For Litigators [paywall]
8 May 2014 – Law360
Best Practices For Law Firm Pro Bono In Calif [paywall]
29 April 2014 – Law360