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  • US: Texas lawyers line up to help flood of young migrants
    27 July 2014 read more >
    Law firms, corporate legal departments and bar associations across Texas have started pro bono projects to represent Central American children flooding across the border. But Nathan Hecht, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, said last week that many more in the legal profession need to step up. Hecht said it will take hundreds or even thousands of volunteer lawyers to guarantee that cases involving the unaccompanied children are handled quickly and fairly under the law.
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  • CU and The Hunger Project Australia celebrate court win giving greater tax certainty to fundraising charities [media release]
    23 July 2014 read more >
    Leading independent Australian law firm Clayton Utz has secured a significant win for our client The Hunger Project Australia before the Full Federal Court, paving the way for not-for-profit organisations that are engaged in fundraising activities to seek endorsement as public benevolent institutions.
    2 of 20
  • UK: A call to alms: international firms are uniquely placed to lead major pro bono projects
    23 July 2014 read more >
    DLA Piper's Tony Angel on why international law firms have huge responsibilities when it comes to pro bono work. Earlier this month I returned from Bangladesh, where I visited the UNICEF-funded child justice projects DLA Piper is supporting to help protect some of the country's most vulnerable children.
    3 of 20
  • Lending a free hand
    18 July 2014 read more >
    Launching multiple pro bono initiatives at the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) helped a senior lawyer and pro bono manager notch up a nomination for The Pro Bono Award. Geetha Nair is one of six people who have been nominated in the category for this year's Lawyers Weekly 2014 Australian Law Awards. Geetha has worked with AGS for 20 years, and has been working as a pro bono manager for two years.
    4 of 20
  • US: Task Force Says Lawyers' Pro Bono Work Should Be For Free, Not For Credit
    18 July 2014 read more >
    A panel investigating Indiana's pro bono legal system says lawyers shouldn't be rewarded with continuing education credits for providing free and low-cost legal services to Hoosiers in need. Chief Justice Brent Dickson mentioned the need to boost pro bono efforts in his 2013 State of the Judiciary address, his first as Chief Justice... But the Pro Bono Reporting Task Force, created at Dickson's urging, says pro bono work and CLE hours should be kept separate, noting that one shouldn't be viewed as more valuable than the other.
    5 of 20
  • US: D.C. Expands Pro Bono Practice Rule to In-House Lawyers
    17 July 2014 read more >
    Legal services lawyers in the District of Columbia are hoping a recent change in the local practice rules will bump up pro bono involvement by corporate in-house lawyers. On Wednesday, the D.C. Court of Appeals adopted a rule allowing in-house lawyers in Washington who aren't members of the D.C. Bar to perform pro bono work. Those in-house lawyers must be a member in "good standing" with the highest court of another state or territory; have no history of suspension or being disbarred; work under the supervision of an active D.C. Bar member; and be assigned or referred by a local legal-services group.
    6 of 20
  • Not-for-profit firm breeds rising stars
    15 July 2014 read more >
    The Young Gun Award saw some impressive applications this year with two finalists coming from the same not-for-profit law firm Salvos Legal. The winner in this popular category will be announced at the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards ceremony, which will take place in Sydney on 8 August... William Kontaxis, a solicitor at Salvos Legal, told Lawyers Weekly, "It's a very big honour [to be nominated]. It's a very prestigious award."
    7 of 20
  • UGANDA: Sh20 Billion Needed for Pro Bono Services
    11 July 2014 read more >
    In 2010, when Night (not real name) fled her violent husband's home and returned to her parents in Kasese, she expected him to go for her - as is often the norm in Uganda. To her surprise, things didn't happen that way. It was, instead, a court bailiff who came knocking at her father's door in May last year. The bailiffs had carried court summons from Makindye magistrate's court, requiring Night to appear before the court within two weeks in a divorce case filed by her husband.
    8 of 20
  • US: Child migrants facing deportation denied basic rights, lawsuit claims
    10 July 2014 read more >
    A class-action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of thousands of child migrants facing deportation, as political pressure mounted on Barack Obama to shortcut an overwhelmed US legal system... very few migrants facing deportation are entitled to court-appointed attorneys, and most rely on a patchwork of non-profit groups and pro bono lawyers, some funded by the government. According to US Department of Justice figures, 44% of migrants appeared in court without representation in fiscal year 2012.
    9 of 20
  • NIGERIA: Adekoya takes on immigration tragedy suit pro bono
    10 July 2014 read more >
    Renowned litigator and leading Nigerian Bar Association presidential aspirant, Funke Adekoya has agreed to lead free of charge the legal team for victims of the Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment fiasco who are set to sue the Federal Government for compensation... the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the defendants acted negligently and in total disregard to the sanctity of lives of over 520,000 Nigerians who were invited for job interview and screening by the Nigerian Immigration Services.
    10 of 20
  • Meet the winners of the Pro Bono Awards
    9 July 2014 read more >
    Each year Arts Law recognises its nationwide panel of volunteer lawyers by awarding 29 commissioned prints to the volunteers who have made a substantial contribution in the previous year... Meet some of the winners of the award below and read about their involvement in volunteering for Arts Law.
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  • Thornbury student to receive family support after months supporting orphaned siblings
    2 July 2014 read more >
    A young Thornbury student caring for her four orphaned siblings alone will finally have support from an older relative after winning her appeal at the Immigration Review Tribunal... Glenroy immigration lawyer Nazim El-Bardouh heard about the Immigration Department's initial refusal to issue a visa and helped Ms Haliem lodge the appeal, telling her he would not take "no" for an answer.
    12 of 20
  • US: Ranking The Best In Biglaw: The Am Law A-List (2014)
    30 June 2014 read more >
    Each year, associates and partners wait with anticipation for American Lawyer to roll out its signature rankings. First comes the influential Am Law 100, followed by the closely watched Am Law 200, and finally comes the annual A-List, the most associate-focused ranking of them all... The other factors included in this ranking are pro bono work, diversity, and most importantly, associate satisfaction. Double the weight is typically given to firms' RPL and pro bono scores, and we usually see the same firms in the top three. That was not the case at all this time around.
    13 of 20
  • It's part of what lawyers do
    30 June 2014 read more >
    Salvos Legal head Luke Geary argues that there can be no rule of law if there is no access to justice, and that is where pro bono work comes to the fore... Considering the need for specialisation to properly address the areas of law which are presently unmet... the profession must consider if there can be a better way to address its focus on the provision of pro bono legal work.
    14 of 20
  • US: Pro Bono: How Does Your Firm Rate? [paywall]
    30 June 2014 read more >
    In this special [American Lawyer] report, we look at the pro bono work of the nation's biggest law firms. U.S.-based lawyers at those firms do well, but pro bono is not as strong among lawyers based abroad who work for U.S. firms.
    15 of 20
  • High Court rules against Scott Morrison's refugee protection visa cap
    20 June 2014 read more >
    The High Court has issued a stunning rebuke to the Abbott government's border protection policy, striking down its decision to refuse to give refugees who arrive by boat permanent protection visas. In two unanimous decisions, with implications for thousands of boats arrivals, the full court ruled that Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's decision to impose a cap on the number of places in Australia's refugee intake for boat arrivals was invalid... "This is a very significant victory for the rule of law being brought to bear on the plight of refugees in our country," said lawyer David Manne, who led the legal team [including lawyers from Allens Linklaters acting pro bono] representing an Ethiopian teenager who arrived in Australia without a visa last year, after stowing away on a cargo ship.
    16 of 20
  • Muckaty nuclear dump defeat is a huge victory for Aboriginal Australia
    19 June 2014 read more >
    Today, the Commonwealth Government has agreed not to act upon the nomination of land at Muckaty Station as a site for Australia's first radioactive waste dump. The resolution comes seven years after the nomination, four years after the court case was started, and two weeks into a seven week trial. The matter has settled with no admission of liability. Maurice Blackburn's social justice practice conducted this case on a pro bono basis, and we couldn't be prouder of the outcome or happier for our clients.
    17 of 20
  • SAUDI ARABIA: Pro bono legal services for the poor considered
    16 June 2014 read more >
    The Justice Ministry is planning to make it obligatory for lawyers to provide free legal services to low-income members of the public. Official sources from the ministry told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the ministry has already finalized a special statute setting up this service. According to the ministry, each lawyer should at least defend nine poor people every year.
    18 of 20
  • Law enforcement is not the answer to public space issues and homelessness
    10 June 2014 read more >
    An international comparison of responses to public space issues involving people experiencing homelessness shows that law enforcement responses are not the answer. "Laws that regulate public space are rarely intended to punish people for their homelessness - but this is often the effect," said Lucy Adams, Manager and Principal Lawyer of Justice Connect Homeless Law. Ms Adams recently returned to Melbourne after travelling to the USA, Canada and Europe on a Churchill Fellowship, speaking to more than 60 experts from 40 organisations in nine cities.
    19 of 20
  • US: U.S. law firms flock to gay-marriage proponents, shun other side
    10 June 2014 read more >
    A Reuters review of more than 100 court filings during the past year shows that at least 30 of the country's largest firms are representing challengers to state laws banning same-sex marriage. Not a single member of the Am Law 200, a commonly used ranking of the largest U.S. firms by revenue, is defending gay marriage prohibitions... In many of the cases, law firms filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of allies including gay-rights groups, law professors and big companies such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks. In some cases, big law firms have made a larger commitment and are representing parties to the litigation. Virtually all are working for free or at cut rates as part of their "pro bono" programs to provide legal services they deem to be in the public interest.
    20 of 20

Herbert Smith Freehills and Holding Redlich become Target signatories

24 June 2014

This month sees these two firms, both with outstanding pro bono practices become signatories to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target, taking the number of Australian lawyers now covered by the Target to nearly 12,000.

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The Centre is hiring: Policy Officer (0.8 FTE) & Office Administrator (0.4 FTE)

29 May 2014

The Centre invites suitable candidates to apply for its currently advertised positions of Policy Officer (0.8 FTE, 4 days a week) and Office Administrator (0.4 FTE, 4 mornings a week). PLEASE NOTE: Applications for these positions have now closed.

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7th Annual Walk for Justice on National Pro Bono Day is biggest yet

30 April 2014

On National Pro Bono Day (13 May) the 7th annual Walk for Justice will be held in a record nine locations - Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. Join in to support QPILCH, Justice Connect and JusticeNet SA!

 

Held every year on the Tuesday of Law Week, everyone from attorneys-general to judges, lawyers and law students will be taking part in Walks to celebrate pro bono and support their local pro bono referral organisation.

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Productivity Commission does not support compulsory pro bono

10 April 2014

The Centre welcomes comments made by the Productivity Commission earlier this week in its draft report on Access to Justice Arrangements indicating that it does not consider compulsion an appropriate means of bolstering pro bono legal services, and recognises that pro bono plays only a small but important role in assisting disadvantaged Australians to obtain legal services.

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Pro bono work under PI insurance scheme doubles

17 March 2014

The hours of pro bono work performed in the latest reporting period by in-house lawyers covered under the National Pro Bono PI Insurance Scheme almost doubled, from 545.6 hours in the six month period from 1 January to 30 June 2013 to 1086.2 hours in the six months to 31 December 2013.

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Nearly 10,000 lawyers now covered by Aspirational Target as King & Wood Mallesons and Gadens Sydney sign up

13 February 2014

The Centre welcomes both King & Wood Mallesons and Gadens Sydney, which joined the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target as signatories this month.  This brings the number of Australian lawyers covered by the Target to almost 10,000 lawyers.  The Scheme started in April 2007 and in its first reporting year covered about 3,000 lawyers.

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Centre develops new strategic plan for 2013-2017

28 November 2013

At its annual planning day the Centre developed a new strategic plan for the next four years. At the heart of the plan is the NPBRC as an independent centre of expertise whose principal objective is 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 full plan can be seen here (PDF).

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Sixth Annual National Pro Bono Aspirational Target Report released

9 October 2013

According to the Sixth Annual National Pro Bono Aspirational Target Performance Report, an average of 33.7 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer was done in the last financial year by signatories to the Target compared to the 34.2 hours per lawyer reported in 2011/2012. Collectively, the reporting signatories provided 294,329 hours of pro bono legal work in 2012/2013 which is over 70,000 more hours than it was two years ago.

 

The Report found that the pro bono performance of signatories improved the longer they had been signatories. Law firms that had been signatories for at least three years averaged 42.7 pro bono hours per lawyer, compared with those firms that had been signatories for at least one year that averaged 35.9 hours per lawyer and the average of all reporting signatory firms (33.6 hours per lawyer).

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Specialist family law practitioners play a vital role in providing free and low cost services

4 October 2013

The Centre has today launched its report Pro Bono Legal Services in Family Law and Family Violence - Understanding the limitations and opportunities. The research found that specialist family law practitioners in private practice are doing a considerable amount of free and discounted work, and further that this work is ‘embedded’ into their regular casework, meaning they have little capacity to take on more pro bono legal work.

 

The research sought to find out why obtaining pro bono legal assistance is family law matters is so difficult. In looking to the large and mid-sized law firms with structured pro bono practices it found that they face significant constraints. They do not have the expertise to take on family law work, there is a lack of discrete tasks, and many view family law as government’s responsibility and therefore outside the scope of their pro bono policy.

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Volunteer Practising Certificates should be available in all states and territories

4 September 2013

The number of Volunteer Practising Certificates issued in the three States where they are available has been increasing steadily since their introduction. Volunteer practising certificates have been available in Victoria since 2005, in Queensland since 2007 and in Western Australia since 2012. In Victoria, 245 certificates were issued in 2011/12, up from 147 in 2008/09, in Queensland, 52 certificates were issued in the 2011/12 year, up from 17 in 2007/08 and in WA, 12 certificates were issued in the first year of the operation of a new system with most of these being issued in the last six months.

 

The Queensland system seems to be the one that best facilitates its lawyers to undertake pro bono legal work and is the most administratively straightforward. The Centre will be advocating to other States and Territories that they consider introducing a similar system. For more information see this month's issue of National Pro Bono News.

 

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hot topics
National Pro Bono News: Issue 89 (June 2014)
The Use of Video Conferencing Technology to Provide Pro Bono Assistance to Self-Represented Litigants in RRR Australia
Pro Bono Legal Services in Family Law and Family Violence: Understanding the Limitations and Opportunities
Pro Bono Partnerships and Models: A Practical Guide to What Works
National Pro Bono PI Insurance Scheme
Pro Bono Manual
Social Needs Directory
Social Justice Opportunities
Aspirational Target
Law Firm Directory

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