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Current News

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  • US: Clemency effort, slow to start, will rely on an army of pro bono lawyers
    28 February 2015 read more >
    A massive influx of applications from prisoners and a complicated review process have slowed the Obama administration's highly touted initiative to grant clemency to nonviolent offenders, shifting the burden to an army of pro bono lawyers and specialists willing to help.
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  • US: The non-traditional form of pro bono
    25 February 2015 read more >
    It is no secret that one of the best things about being a member of the Maryland Bar is the lack of mandatory CLEs and mandatory pro bono work. I'm not saying that Maryland's attorneys are not among the finest, well-educated, and most civic-minded, but I've never been a fan of forcing attorneys to do "free" work. Because each attorney's normal practice, skills, availability, and comfort level with pro bono varies, I very much support the practice of "aspirational" pro bono in Maryland.
    2 of 20
  • Salvos lifts its growth target to fund free legal aid [paywall]
    20 February 2015 read more >
    The Salvation Army's wholly owned law firm has delivered about $35 million worth of free legal advice over the past five years, and has unveiled ambitious plans for growth. Salvos provides humanitarian legal work without receiving a cent from the government, instead using the profits from corporate legal services to pay for it. The head of Salvos Legal, former Mills Oakley partner Luke Geary, has plans to grow the firm's commercial practice by 20 per cent a year for the next five years.
    3 of 20
  • Asylum seeker lawyers win ALA award
    16 February 2015 read more >
    The lawyers who fought to free baby Ferouz and his asylum-seeking family from a detention centre in Darwin have received a prestigious civil justice award in Queensland. This year's Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland Civil Justice Award was presented to solicitor Angus Francis from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, Maurice Blackburn senior associate Murray Watt, and barristers Mark Steele, Matt Black, Stephen Keim SC and Walter Sofronoff QC. The legal team worked on the high-profile asylum seeker matter on a pro bono basis.
    4 of 20
  • Pro bono: Speaking up for asylum seekers
    16 February 2015 read more >
    Class actions can be a powerful vehicle for pro bono lawyers to help improve access to justice for people without a voice. Many lawyers are rightly troubled by the treatment of asylum seekers. There has been a search among public interest lawyers for silver bullet litigation in respect of immigration policies, in particular offshore detention.
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  • Raising the Bar for Change: Changemaker
    16 February 2015 read more >
    Jacob Varghese uses his skills in the field of law to make a difference in the world. Varghese is the Principal in charge of Pro Bono work at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. He is this week's Changemaker. Working for a law firm that has made a name for itself for taking on politically sensitive cases for free, Jacob Varghese said he is inspired by being able to make real and tangible benefits to other people's lives.
    6 of 20
  • SAUDIA ARABIA: Saudi lawyers to offer legal help to the poor
    15 February 2015 read more >
    A programme to have all lawyers in Saudi Arabia take up at least nine legal cases annually on a pro bono basis is to be announced soon. Under the programme prepared by the justice ministery, the services will be provided for people with limited income and will include legal assistance, defence and follow up, local daily Al Madina reported on Sunday. Each lawyer will have an online account linked to the ministry through which he records the pro bono legal services.
    7 of 20
  • CBP strikes $1 million pro bono deal with children's charity
    6 February 2015 read more >
    CBP Lawyers will provide pro bono services to the value of $1 million over three years to Save the Children Australia. The partnership between the firm and the children's aid agency was launched today, February 6. Through the CBP Foundation, the firm's new community practice, CBP Lawyers will do pro bono work for a range of youth services in Victoria, while also supporting Save the Children's fundraising and volunteering activities.
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  • US: Iowa must provide legal aid, Supreme Court says
    3 February 2015 read more >
    Iowa attorneys will not be required to pay a yearly fee to support low-income legal services, but the state needs to find more ways to provide representation to its poorest residents, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in a Tuesday order... the chief justice voiced support for legislators to continue giving money to Iowa Legal Aid and for attorneys across the state to take cases pro bono.
    9 of 20
  • Burnside: lawyers must challenge unjust laws
    3 February 2015 read more >
    Prominent barrister Julian Burnside AO QC told Lawyers Weekly that Australian lawyers have an obligation to speak out against laws that allow unjustifiable breaches of human rights. "It's too easy for a system to go badly off the rails if people accept complacently that what's being done is being done with the authority of law. I think all lawyers, especially, have an obligation to look at law and see whether it is justifiable"
    10 of 20
  • US: Pro bono spotlight: Rusty Mead's 11 hours of volunteer work helped family get new start
    2 February 2015 read more >
    In less than 11 hours of work, pro bono attorney Rusty Mead provided a family with the opportunity to live safely and begin a new life. Read how her efforts resulted in positive outcomes beyond measure. What were the basic facts of your case? The case involved a young lady who was served with a supplemental petition asking to have primary timesharing of their minor child filed by her ex-husband...
    11 of 20
  • UK: Freshfields gives cyber security help on pro bono basis
    29 January 2015 read more >
    Freshfields and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson are giving free advice to start-up entrepreneurs taking a 12-week programme with a new pro bono advice organisation called Cyber London. Cyber London believes it is Europe's first business accelerator programme in the area of cyber security.
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  • US: Law Firm Founds Project to Fight 'Revenge Porn'
    29 January 2015 read more >
    ... The lawsuit reflects a battle line that is being drawn in an age when it is not uncommon for couples to share nude photos digitally, and just as easy for a jilted lover to find a pornographic website willing to post them online. The litigation is the handiwork of a new initiative by K&L Gates, a Pittsburgh-based law firm. Begun in late September, its Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project has roughly 50 lawyers at the firm volunteering their time.
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  • Legal program at Newcastle Beach riding a wave of success
    29 January 2015 read more >
    A free legal clinic metres from the crashing waves at Newcastle Beach is pushing law students into new learning experiences. What comes to mind when you think of visiting a law firm? The image of suits, briefcases and mountains of paperwork probably springs to mind. But have you ever thought that getting legal advice could involve sitting in a surf club, watching the waves roll in at Newcastle Beach?
    14 of 20
  • Making Christmas cards count
    29 January 2015 read more >
    Instead of sending impersonal Seasons Greetings into the ether like many other law firms, Maddocks decided to do things a little differently last month. Clients who received an e-card were asked to click on a link to activate a charitable donation from Maddocks. "To evolve the traditional Christmas card... into something that has [an] impact on our communities is a really positive thing," pro bono partner Peter Francis told Lawyers Weekly. "Our clients loved being part of the process."
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  • Australia Day honours: Lawyer John Denton awarded AO for business and social welfare work
    26 January 2015 read more >
    Hyperactive lawyer John Denton is out of bed each day by 6am at the latest. He has to be, with all the hats he wears: governor of the Arts Centre, chairman of the Australian group for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, a board member of Teach for Australia, founding member of the Australia-China Chamber of CEO round table.
    16 of 20
  • MALAYSIA: Poor get better access to justice with legal aid foundation, says Bar president
    24 January 2015 read more >
    More poor people, including foreigners, now have better access to justice with the National Legal Aid Foundation which has so far represented arrested persons in about 75% of all remand hearings, Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said, compared to the lack of access to legal recourse for 80% of those facing trial for criminal cases before this.
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  • Government lawyers lift pro bono hours
    19 January 2015 read more >
    The number of pro bono hours undertaken by federal government legal service providers has increased in the past year. Time spent on pro bono work grew four per cent in 2013-2014, up to 562,647 hours in total, according to the Legal Services Expenditure Report released by the Attorney-General's Department.
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  • Legal Aid launches review into its family law services
    19 January 2015 read more >
    Victoria Legal Aid will overhaul its family law services to give more help to people whose first encounter with the labyrinthine legal system occurs when they go to court to get a family violence intervention order. The legal service is considering a raft of changes to try and make its support more accessible to vulnerable people. People who go to the Magistrates Court to apply for family violence intervention orders could be linked with help to solve their other family law problems. For the first time since 1974 the service has launched a comprehensive review, responding in part to the huge increase in people appearing in court on family violence matters.
    19 of 20
  • BANGLADESH: Strengthening pro bono legal services
    14 January 2015 read more >
    A system of pro bono lawyering, as is traditionally prevalent in other jurisdictions, in the form of a separate pro bono practice and specific lawyers designated to conduct such cases, within law firms does not exist in Bangladesh. However, there exists a wide culture of providing legal services free of cost, informally.
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WA's Law Access pro bono clearing house gets underway at the University of WA

26 February 2015

In a watershed moment for pro bono development in the West, the pro bono clearing house “Law Access” has just opened its doors at new premises in the Law Faculty at the University of WA. Law Access has existed as a pro bono referral scheme within the Law Society of WA since 1992 but is now to be operated by Law Access Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Law Society.

read more >


The Centre welcomes its new Chair and Board Members

18 December 2014

The Centre welcomes its new Chair, Phillip Cornwell (Allens), and new Board Members, Daniel Creasey (CBP Lawyers) and Jane Hutchison (Hobart Community Legal Centre).

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Report shows pro bono growth but reveals warning signs

12 December 2014

The Final Report on the Fourth Biennial National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey, released today, highlights the impressive pro bono contribution of large law firms which continues to grow. However, a number of concerning trends are also identified. Some of these trends were also recognised in the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report on Access to Justice Arrangements, released last week.

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Law firms agree to collaborate around a new UK pro bono aspirational target

13 November 2014

In what looks like being a significant moment in the development of legal pro bono culture in the UK, at least eighteen large law firms with offices in the UK agreed last week to participate in a new Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono in the UK.

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Law Firm Survey Interim Report and Target Report released

2 October 2014

The Centre today released the Fourth National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey (Australian firms with 50+ lawyers) Interim Report and the Seventh Annual Performance Report on the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target. Forty of the 55 firms with 50+ lawyers, including 24 of the 25 largest, responded to the Survey. Of the 20 largest firms in Australia, 17 are now signatories to the Target.

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Pro bono at National CLCs Conference and Legal Aid NSW Civil Law Conference

27 August 2014

John Corker, Director of the Centre, attended the National CLCs Conference and the Legal Aid NSW Civil Law Conference this month. He shares his experience in this month’s newsletter.

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National Partnership Agreement Review Final Report released

30 July 2014

The Final Report of the Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Service, prepared by the Allen Consulting Group (now ACIL Allen Consulting) for the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, has been released.

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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.

read more >


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