Most often fellowships are monetary awards — scholarships — connected to working in a specific field, usually at the graduate or post-graduate level. An example of fellowships used as a model of delivering pro bono assistance is the Clayton Utz Foundation Fellowship. The Pro Bono Partner at Clayton Utz, David Hillard, explained that the program, which has been running since 2007, funds a regional CLC to employ a graduate or new solicitor for two years on a particular project, specifically targeting regional Australia, with the aim of recruiting new lawyers to regional CLCs who will stay there. ‘The success of the fellowship program is reflected in the fact that all positions have secured continued government funding beyond the period of the fellowship. The firm provides additional support from the outset, offering a representative to sit on the selection panel for the recruitment, then paying the salary, providing access to the firm’s training, and IT support (supply of laptops etc). It has been an effective way of building the capacity of the CLC and is not included in the firm’s pro bono hours.’
Fellowships have been funded by Clayton Utz to assist:
- Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre in Bendigo from 2007 to 2009 — outreach to new migrant communities and a pilot community legal service based in Shepparton;
- Hawkesbury-Nepean Community Legal Centre in Windsor from 2008 to 2010 — outreach focused on domestic violence;
- Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre from 2009 to 2011 — piloting community legal services in the Goulburn Valley; and
- Geraldton Resource Centre WA from 2012 to 2014 — Aboriginal Wills Project.
Two of the fellows came from the relevant regional area, and two came from outside the area. All have remained with the CLC after completing the fellowship. David suggested that a fellowship program may be a good way to start a pro bono relationship.
Fellowships are more commonly used in the United States as a model of delivering pro bono legal assistance. The Skadden fellowships are a good example:
The Skadden Fellowship Program, described as a legal Peace Corps by The Los Angeles Times, was established in 1988 to commemorate the firm’s 40th anniversary, in recognition of the dire need for greater funding for graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights.
The aim of the foundation is to give Fellows the freedom to pursue public interest work; thus, the Fellows create their own projects at public interest organisations with at least two lawyers on staff before they apply.
Fellowships are awarded for two years. Skadden provides each Fellow with a salary and pays all fringe benefits to which an employee of the sponsoring organisation would be entitled. For those Fellows not covered by a law school low income protection plan, the firm will pay a Fellows law school debt service for the tuition part of the loan for the duration of the fellowship. The 2012 class of Fellows brings to 648 the number of academically outstanding law school graduates and judicial clerks the firm has funded to work full-time for legal and advocacy organisations.1
Hewlett Packard, Pfizer and Walmart are examples of corporations in the US that have sponsored medical legal partnerships, targeting particular communities and types of clients where the corporate partners’ interests coincide with the pro bono client’s interests.
- 23.1 Fellowships: At a Glance
- 23.2 Case studies
23.1 FELLOWSHIPS: AT A GLANCE
Features that make it effective
23.2 CASE STUDIES
- 23.2.1 Case study: Aboriginal Wills Project (Geraldton Resource Centre and Clayton Utz)
- 23.2.2 Case study: Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and Clayton Utz
23.2.1 Case study: Aboriginal Wills Project (Geraldton Resource Centre and Clayton Utz)
As a recipient of the Clayton Utz Foundation Fellowship, Geraldton Resource Centre (GRC) received two years of funding from July 2012 to June 2014 to recruit a staff member to run an Aboriginal wills project. The project arose from a specific case that highlighted that in Aboriginal communities there can be major disputes about where a person will be buried if the person dies without a will. The matter was urgent, not least given the requirement for Aboriginal people to be buried within a month of death. Clayton Utz assisted with the application to the Supreme Court and recognised there was a broader need for Aboriginal people to have wills so their wishes could be recognised in law.
The highly useful and effective relationship came about because GRC had a relationship with Clayton Utz’s National Pro Bono Coordinator (not the Perth Coordinator). Subsequently, GRC has developed a good relationship with the Perth office, demonstrating that positive relationships do not always need to start locally.
- Ability for the CLC to choose someone who fitted the culture of the organisation and could also assist with the other work of the Centre.
- Clayton Utz’s assistance with the recruiting process.
- The fellowship helped to maintain the longstanding close relationship that GRC has with Clayton Utz, which enabled GRC to facilitate the provision of pro bono assistance for other community organisations in the Geraldton area. For example, Clayton Utz also assisted with settlement of a property for a local organisation, and provided advice around workplace relations, constitution redrafting, and constitutional corporation status.
Features that made it effective
- Use of community legal education to convey to communities that having a will is important and necessary before running a legal advice session and drafting wills.
- GRC has a good relationship with Clayton Utz and saw the benefit of developing a partnership. In his role as Operations Manager at GRC, Chris Gabelish explained that ‘some CLCs can be over-protective of their territory, seeing themselves as the only carriers of social justice. Working towards positive relationships can yield real benefits for clients.’
23.2.2 Case study: Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and Clayton Utz
Loddon Campaspe CLC has been the recipient of several two-year Clayton Utz fellowships through the Clayton Utz Foundation.
The first fellowship in 2006 enabled Paula Glassborow to establish a homeless persons legal assistance service, partnering with PILCH Victoria (now Justice Connect) and migration assistance services. Paula was retained by the centre beyond the fellowship period.
In 2009 a second fellowship enabled Joanne Ellis to set up the Goulburn Valley project. In 2012 the Foundation funded a research fellowship enabling Peter Noble (then Loddon Campaspe’s Coordinator) to travel to the US to research health justice partnership models. Following a recommendation in Peter’s 2012 report to the Foundation Advocacy-Health Alliances: better health through medical-legal partnerships,2 the Foundation together with Justice Connect established Health Justice Australia.
- These fellowships have given the CLC much more freedom than a secondment to choose the person they want, the project they want to do, and the work they want the fellow to do.
- Clayton Utz has also provided assistance with recruitment and training, and has taken referrals from sites where projects were being conducted.
- Fellowships provide opportunities for interested graduates in a sector where opportunities are few.
- Fellows have tended to remain with the organisation and have proven the value of the position/project. For example, one fellow stayed for five years and the other stayed for three years. In his former role as Coordinator at Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre, Peter Noble explained that it would be very difficult for the service to be discontinued, now that the need has been established and is being addressed.
1 Skadden Foundation, The Foundation, http://www.skaddenfellowships.org/about-foundation.
2 P Noble, Advocacy-Health Alliances: Better Health through Medical-Legal Partnerships (2012), http://advocacyhealthalliances.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/aha-report_general1.pdf.