ExpertsDirect Pro Bono is a new service just launched for lawyers that aims to put them in touch with experts in a myriad of fields who are prepared to offer their services for free or at low cost in matters where the lawyer is acting on a pro bono basis.
It was fitting that the 2018 Asia Pro Bono Conference was held in Hong Kong on 25-27 October 2018, where the legal profession has been working hard in recent years seeking to advance and develop the pro bono activity of its lawyers.
Articles of interest to the pro bono community that have been published since our last edition.
Meet our new Office Administrator, Natasha Rose, who left a high-flying career in experiential marketing to pursue a Master of Human Rights Law and Policy. Natasha has lived and studied in Mexico, interned at the Red Cross, and is now hard at work pursuing her passion for improving access to justice for society’s most vulnerable.
At 75, Lynn Flanagan is proving a dynamo volunteer at Hunter CLC. We caught up with Lynn to chat about her work, motivation and what life is like as a mature-age student!
On 1 November 2018 the Centre’s Head of Policy & Strategy, Gabriela Christian-Hare, participated in a panel discussion on measuring impact and story-telling at the Australian Pro Bono & Skilled Volunteering Summit at Westpac in Sydney.
To mark 100 years of women in law in Australia, we asked three inspirational women legal practitioners – Leah Cameron, Nicky Friedman, Geetha Nair, and Hannah Rose – ‘what needs to change in the legal profession so that more women can thrive professionally and personally?’
Ella Alexander, Pro Bono Senior Associate at Makinson d’Apice Lawyers, shares her experience of pro bono lawyering on the front line of the refugee crisis on the Greek Island of Lesvos, where over 11,000 asylum seekers are stranded awaiting the outcome of their applications for refugee status.
The Commonwealth has just released their annual legal services expenditure report for 2016-2017 reporting total legal services expenditure of $825.51m (up 4.2%), and 502,619 hours of pro bono legal work done by reporting firms (down 9.5% on 2015-16 results).
The Commonwealth Government’s Legal Services Multi-Use List (LSMUL) of firms authorised to provide legal services to the Commonwealth ceased on 1 July 2018 and with it some of the conditions that formally encouraged firms to undertake pro bono legal work.
On 22 August 2018, the Australian Pro Bono Centre (Centre) and Law Society of NSW hosted a forum to engage and support in-house corporate lawyers to do pro bono legal work.
Wednesday 1 August 2018
REVIEW OF COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES RECOGNISES IMPORTANCE OF RESOURCING TO LEVERAGE PRO BONO SUPPORT
The Australian Pro Bono Centre welcomes the announcement today by the NSW Government of new funding for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in NSW based on the recommendations of the 2017 Review of NSW Community Legal Centre Services led by Mr Alan Cameron AO (Review Report) also released today.
The Centre particularly welcomes the findings in the Review Report that:
- CLCs need adequate resources to harness, co-ordinate and supervise pro bono and volunteer support;
- students, volunteers and pro bono partnerships make a significant contribution to the CLC sector; and
- this multiplies the value of government funding and increases the benefits of legal assistance services experienced by individuals and the community.
“For CLCs to take full advantage of the available pro bono support, they often need to provide coordination, training, supervision and other support. This cost is often underestimated and unrecognised,” said John Corker, CEO of the Australian Pro Bono Centre.
The Centre’s work has shown that good coordination and training are vital components of a successful pro bono relationship, whether with an individual volunteer or a law firm. There can be a considerable cost associated with managing such relationships, particularly for larger projects.
“With many firms being reliant on their ability to partner with CLCs to deliver their pro bono services, it’s important to have a formal recognition of the cost to firms and CLCs of establishing and maintaining these partnerships,” Mr Corker said.
Unmet legal need
Importantly the Review Report highlights gaps in service delivery, particularly in rural, regional and remote areas of NSW, and a need for more legal assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people, and people with disabilities.
According to the Review Report the areas of law seen as most pressing in terms of unmet need are in the areas of child care and protection, housing, credit and debt, domestic violence and consumer law.
For further information or comment please contact John Corker on 02 9385 7371 or 0402474628.
The final report of the tenth anniversary review of the National Pro Bono Target (as it will now be called) was released last week concluding a year-long consultation process with members of the Target signatory community. Changes to the Target took effect on 1 July 2018.
Wednesday 27 June 2018
NATIONAL PRO BONO TARGET REMAINS AT 35 HOURS PER LAWYER PER ANNUM BUT NOW INCLUDES WORK FOR SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
CHANGES TO APPLY FROM 1 JULY 2018
The final report of the tenth anniversary review of the National Pro Bono Target (as it will now be called) was released today concluding a year-long consultation process with members of the Target signatory community.
“The word ‘aspirational’ has been dropped from the Target’s title, but by its very nature the Target remains aspirational,” said John Corker, CEO of the Australian Pro Bono Centre, the independent organisation that manages the Target.
“The review has allowed the Target to be updated to reflect contemporary pro bono legal practice and maintain its place as an industry standard and beacon for pro bono legal practice in Australia,” he said.
The key outcomes of the Review are that from 1 July 2018:
- The target will remain at 35 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer per annum.
- The Target’s definition of ‘pro bono legal services’ will now allow work undertaken for social enterprises to count towards total target hours, reflecting growth in this area of pro bono legal practice.
- The Centre will issue new guidance notes to help firms assess whether legal work for a charity, other not-for-profit organisation or social enterprise should be undertaken on a pro bono basis.
- The meaning of legal work undertaken for a ‘substantially reduced fee’ will also be clarified through guidance notes, with firms that undertake this ‘low bono’ work being required to report it separately from work undertaken for no fee.
- The metric for measuring pro bono legal work for the purposes of the Target will remain as hours per lawyer per annum, with the Centre undertaking further work about how best to evaluate and communicate the impact of this work.
- The Centre will adopt administrative changes in the way it works with some signatories on a case-by-case basis to provide more active support to signatories that are not reaching the target and to help them build a framework for reaching the target within a set timeframe.
- The Centre will continue to advocate and work with governments to assist them to integrate the Target into their legal services tender arrangements and therefore encourage further pro bono growth.
“The review has been extremely worthwhile. It has facilitated a fruitful discussion within the signatory community about key definitional issues and facilitated the Centre to revisit the strengths and limitations of the Target scheme,” said John Corker.
The changes and new guidance notes will make the Target more fit for purpose to support pro bono growth in the future.
“Despite a number of firms now having internal targets of 50 hours per lawyer per annum, the target of 35 hours remains a realistic benchmark, with around half of Target signatories reporting more, and half fewer, than the 35-hour standard,” Corker said.
The Australian Pro Bono Centre is an independent centre of expertise that aims to grow the capacity of the Australian legal profession to provide pro bono legal services that are focused on increasing access to justice for socially disadvantaged and/or marginalised persons and furthering the public interest.
The National Pro Bono Target is a voluntary target that Australian law firms, incorporated legal practices, individual solicitors (including in-house corporate and government lawyers) and barristers are encouraged to adopt by becoming signatories and by signing a Statement of Principles.
Signatories to the Target agree to use their best efforts to provide at least 35 hours of pro bono legal services per lawyer per year, adhere to the Statement of Principles and report annually to the Centre on whether they have met the target in the previous year.
The National Pro Bono Target was established in 2007. With four new law firms signing up in 2018 (at the time of distributing this release), the Target now covers over 12,000 full-time equivalent lawyers. Since its establishment, 2.86 million hours of pro bono work by Australian lawyers has been reported against the Target.
Target signatories are involved in a range of focus areas, including: helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; people suffering homelessness; severe poverty; those affected by a cognitive impairment, mental illness or other disability; those affected by family violence or elder abuse; those lacking access to education; those in regional, rural and remote communities; and asylum seekers and refugees. Others prioritise women, youth or charities in their pro bono programs.
Reporting by firms for the 2017/2018 year is due in July 2018.
For further information or comment please contact John Corker on 02 9385 7371 or 0402474628.
The pro bono ethic that is so central to the legal profession is beginning to take root in other professions. The Centre’s Head of Policy & Strategy, Gabriela Christian-Hare, spoke recently at a think tank organised by Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and Engineers Australia. Read EWB’s reflections following the event.
As part of UNSW Law and the Law Society of NSW’s Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) Stream, the Centre is excited to be working with Professor Michael Legg on a new project about the unbundling of legal services.
Corporate, government and volunteer lawyers performed 1,375 hours of pro bono legal work under the Centre’s National PI Insurance Scheme in the second half of 2017. The hours were performed by 108 lawyers and 8 paralegals involved in 72 projects. In this article, we highlight the work of the Multicultural Services Centre of Western Australia.
Emma Ting and Joyce Cheung are final-year law students at UNSW and they’re our interns this semester! Meet them here.
Welcome to Trent Wallace, our newest Secondee Policy and Project Officer. Trent comes to us from Australian Government Solicitor (AGS).
Ju Hi Jin joined our team in late November. You may already have spoken with her over the phone or corresponded with her via email, so we thought we’d share a little bit more about our new(ish) Office Administrator.