Welcome to the October 2009 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:
- Target Report shows pro bono increase
- Centre’s new Strategic Plan
- National Pro Bono Guide for ATSILs launched
- A-G’s Access to Justice Taskforce reports
- Pro Bono Partnership Award showcases innovative partnerships
- Meeting the legal needs of prisoners in Victoria
- A report from Perth and the national CLC conference
- Protective Costs Order made in NSW Land and Environment Court
Target Report shows pro bono increase
The Second Performance Report on the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target (“Target”) released today shows an average of 41.9 hours of pro bono work was done in the last financial year by lawyers who have signed up to the Target up from 39.8 hours per lawyer, reported last year.
The numbers of signatories has risen considerably. TheTarget now covers approximately 5,700 lawyers across Australia, up from 2,900 last year.
To download report and media release please click the links below:
Centre’s new Strategic Plan
The Centre’s new Strategic Plan can be found here.
National Pro Bono Guide for ATSILs launched
The guide was created specifically to assist ATSILS and their clients access pro bono assistance and genuine interest was shown by many present. The Centre would still welcome assistance with printing copies of the Guide. Copies of the Guide can be downloaded from the Centre’s website.
A-G’s Access to Justice Taskforce reports
A copy of the report can be found here.
Pro Bono Partnership Award showcases innovative partnerships
A list of nominees and the winner of the The Law and Justice Foundation of NSW’s Justice Awards can be found here.
Meeting the legal needs of prisoners in Victoria
DLA Phillips Fox has been working closely with Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC) over the past six months to assist in the implementation of the Inside Access program throughout Victoria’s prison system. The Inside Access program involves a Prisoner Legal Service, accessible by people within the Victorian prison system who have been assessed as experiencing mental illness or an intellectual disability. The Prisoner Legal Service was launched on 26 March 2009 and has continued to grow in numbers and demand.
20 volunteer lawyers from DLA Phillips Fox, in conjunction with MHLC staff, have been conducting the free and confidential legal service once a week aimed at prisoners in Marrmak, a Specialist Mental Health Service in Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Deer Park, about 70 km southwest of Melbourne. The service runs both a telephone advice line and conducts fortnightly visits to the prison to meet with clients and obtain instructions. The program has also recently expanded to offer free legal services to those within the Acute Assessment Unit at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
DLA Phillips Fox lawyers are currently advising 25 clients on an ongoing basis, assisting with issues such as debt, residential disputes, guardianship and administration, family law and child custody, inquests and other human rights issues. Criminal law matters are dealt with by Victorian Legal Aid.
The 8-month pilot program has been made possible by a grant to the MHLC from the Legal Services Board. The program is focused on law reform, research, reporting, casework and broader community education to raise awareness of the legal and other needs of prisoners who experience mental illness. This work will form part of a broader three-year project (funding permitting) to assist the MHLC in reporting on the legal needs of prisoners experiencing mental illness. The data collected from the casework will help identify systemic issues requiring law and policy reform, as well as other areas requiring broader community education.
Firms who are interested in participating in the service should contact Sam Sowerwine or Vivienne Topp at the Mental Health Legal Centre on 9614 1122 or Alice Skipper (9274 5073) or Dan Creasey (9274 5210) at DLA Phillips Fox.
A report from Perth and the national CLC conference
Lawyer of the year awards were the centerpiece of the WA Law Week Luncheon addressed by John Corcoran , president of the Law Council of Australia.
Freehills Perth Pro Bono Partner, Steven Penglis was awarded a Lawyer of the Year award for tireless contribution to the profession for more than 25 years, Hailing from Sydney in 1986 it was noted that he with then-Freehills partners Robert Meadows and Paul G Evans, he established Australia’s first formal pro bono program in 1991.
The Lawyer of the year award for less than five years practising went to Toni Emmanuel the principal solicitor at the Employment Law Centre of WA.
Her list of achievements at the ELC included
- Establishing an extensive volunteer program
- Mentoring and overseeing more than 40 paralegals, young lawyers and volunteers
- In the past 12 months alone she had coordinated 26 in-house volunteers who have provided over 2,900 hours to the service; and
- generating nearly 900 hours of external pro bono assistance for her clients in the past year
Toni has contributed significantly to other community legal services, as a Board of Management member for the Welfare Rights Advocacy Service and Street Law.
The NACLC conference had some really excellent sessions this year and was overall a stronger conference. Much unmet legal need was identified and one can only get to a number of sessions but the legal needs of the African community both in Victoria and in Perth were noted and also new refugee immigrants from Myanmar. Mallesons and Allens Arthur Robinson have been assisting the Footscray Community Legal Service to meet the needs of African clients, particularly with many offences connected with the use of motor vehicles. However in Perth the Northern Suburbs CLC is overloaded with work from new immigrants from African countries and unique issues associated with a new emerging community of immigrants from Myanmar and could do with some help.
The conference pro bono session (also a Law Week event) brought together a number of Perth private lawyers with community legal centre workers, the new WA pro bono bar coordinator, Elspeth Hensler and the Law Access service of the WA Law Society for a social gathering after a diverse set of presentations and the conversations afterwards may have led to some new pro bono relationships.
Protective Costs Order made in NSW Land and Environment Court
A copy of the judgement can be found here.