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Current News

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  • Ashurst appoints global pro bono partner
    16 April 2015 read more >
    A senior lawyer at Reed Smith in London and last year's Australian Woman of the Year (UK) will relocate to Sydney to lead Ashurst's pro bono practice. Sarah Morton-Ramwell has managed Reed Smith's pro bono and corporate responsibility projects for Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) for the past five years. In that period Reed Smith EMEA recorded its best pro bono and CSR results to date.
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  • Ashurst appoints global head of pro bono [news release]
    15 April 2015 read more >
    International law firm Ashurst today announces the appointment of Sarah Morton-Ramwell as global pro bono partner to be based in the firm's Sydney office. Sarah joins from Reed Smith in London where she was responsible for the firm's pro bono and corporate responsibility projects in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Sarah studied and worked in Sydney and New York before undertaking her training at Freshfields in London and also worked in its pro bono team.
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  • UK: Students providing justice?
    15 April 2015 read more >
    Is it inappropriate for the legal system to come to depend at least in part on student work? Jane Ching, Professor of Legal Education at Nottingham Law School, considers the options. Law schools have long given students the chance to gain valuable practical experience by involving themselves in law clinics and other pro bono activity. The growth in this activity has at least matched the ongoing reductions in the legal aid budget.
    3 of 20
  • 'We are all human rights lawyers', says ABA rep
    15 April 2015 read more >
    Human rights should not be seen as a specialist area of law but as an integral part of every lawyer's practice, the chair of the Centre for Human Rights of the American Bar Association has said. "I think lawyers have to remember that in the end, we are all human rights lawyers," Deborah Enix-Ross told Lawyers Weekly. Ms Enix-Ross visited Australia this month, delivering a speech for the Twilight Seminar Series on 25 March.
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  • UK: Are pro bono lawyers playing the Government's game?
    15 April 2015 read more >
    ... The Government, I'm quite certain, is perfectly happy for lawyers to act pro bono for those no longer entitled to legal aid and pro bono lawyers, working for the public good, obviously do not want to see those in need go unrepresented. The question, however, is: is the Government taking advantage of their good intentions, or to put it slightly differently, are pro bono lawyers unwittingly propping up government policy and making it less likely that the policy will be reconsidered, possibly even encouraging further cuts?
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  • US: New rules allow corporate counsel to provide pro bono service
    10 April 2015 read more >
    The Ohio Supreme Court has approved rule changes to allow corporate attorneys to provide pro bono legal service. A series of changes to Attorney Registration have been proposed as amendments to Rule VI of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. While the court is still considering some suggested changes to the rule, it approved amendments to expand the scope of practice for corporate attorneys and permit them to provide pro bono legal services through a qualified legal aid organization.
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  • US: Shameful Admissions Call for Powerful Pro Bono Response
    10 April 2015 read more >
    I've noticed recently that some immigration lawyers, myself included, have become so used to having our removal and asylum seeker clients jailed for months at a time, that it's becoming difficult to grasp the horrendous impact on an individual client of having to endure even one more day of confinement. No matter that they have not been accused or convicted of any crime and that they have no criminal background. It's such a common situation that representing clients who are routinely deprived of their liberty for weeks, or even months and years, is almost the norm.
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  • CANADA: Do-good law firm stuck in ethical Catch-22
    8 April 2015 read more >
    Three years ago, Galit Menahem approached family lawyer Pamila Bhardwaj with a risky business proposition. Ms. Menahem, a licensed paralegal and women's abuse counsellor, wanted to join forces with a lawyer to create a firm dedicated to representing victims of domestic abuse. Sadly, business is booming. But because of the nature of their work, and the often-scant resources of their clients, Ms. Bhardwaj and Ms. Menahem are losing thousands of billable hours on what amounts to pro bono work.
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  • Legal fairness demands protection of the right to interpreters
    5 April 2015 read more >
    Imagine if you couldn't understand what is written here. Imagine if you had insufficient English to tell your story in person or over the phone. Then imagine your distress if this was happening as you confronted a legal problem. Interpreting services are crucial inside courts if people whose first language is not English are to be able to pursue and defend their legal rights.
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  • US: Pro Bono Q&A: How One Law Firm Is Helping a California City Curb Gun Violence
    4 April 2015 read more >
    We spoke recently with Farella Braun + Martel partner Tony Schoenberg about the law firm's pro bono efforts, and, in particular, his work related to a Sunnyvale, Calif., ordinance that bans the possession of large-capacity gun magazines. Farella is representing the city of Sunnyvale in its defense of the 2013 ordinance, which was upheld last month by a federal appeals court.
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  • Slavery in the Australian suburbs: It's happening, but how do we stop it?
    2 April 2015 read more >
    A man kept for 16 months in 'conditions akin to slavery' in a Sydney restaurant has been awarded $186,000 in unpaid wages. "Mr Ram was effectively held against his will, he was held as a chattel basically. He was a thing which was under the control and possession of his employer... He was trapped," says David Hillard, Pro Bono Partner with Clayton Utz, the firm which represented Mr Ram in court.
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  • US: This D.C. lawyer coordinated a massive pro bono effort on behalf of Holocaust victims
    1 April 2015 read more >
    On Nov. 5, 1942, a young Jewish man named Leo Bretholz was herded into a French state-owned railway car bound for Auschwitz. Between 1942 and 1944, the Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais transported approximately 76,000 Jews and "undesirables" to Nazi death camps. Fewer than 3 percent survived. Bretholz was lucky: He and a friend pried open bars covering their cattle car's small window and jumped.
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  • No right to justice
    1 April 2015 read more >
    What would you do if you desperately needed legal help but you couldn't afford a lawyer? Legal Aid, right? Well, if you're fighting to save your house, retain custody of your kids or escape a violent partner, it's actually pretty unlikely you'd qualify for their help. It's more likely you'll need to turn to a community legal service. It's a sector very few Australians care about - until they need it.
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  • Firm to reach half a million pro bono hours
    1 April 2015 read more >
    Clayton Utz will be the first in Australia to log half a million pro bono hours this year after being the first to develop an in-house pro bono practice in 1997. David Hillard, the firm's pro bono partner, said Clayton Utz's success is largely due to treating pro bono as a practice group like any other. He said the involvement of all lawyers is taken extremely seriously.
    14 of 20
  • Court orders $186,000 in unpaid wages to a man held in "conditions akin to slavery" for 16 months [media release]
    27 March 2015 read more >
    The Federal Circuit Court has today ordered a restaurant and its owner to pay $186,000 in wages withheld from a man who was trafficked from India under a sham 457 visa arrangement and held in forced labour, working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for 16 months... This successful case follows 3 years of pro bono representation of Mr Ram by Clayton Utz, and pro bono representation by barristers Yaseen Shariff and Jocelyn Williams.
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  • UK: Student pro bono stars shine at annual LawWorks & AG awards
    26 March 2015 read more >
    Students from across the United Kingdom gathered on 25 March for the annual LawWorks & Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2015. Held in the House of Commons, and endorsed and presented by Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP, the awards recognise the hard work, innovation and dedication of law students around the country. The recent LawWorks Law School Pro Bono and Clinic Report revealed that around 70% of all UK law schools are involved in pro bono projects.
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  • Former refugee wins industry award
    24 March 2015 read more >
    A supervising solicitor and migration agent who fled Croatia and Bosnia in the mid-1990s has been named Young Migration Lawyer of the Year. Last week Marina Brizar was recognised for promoting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers with the Law Council of Australia's 2015 John Gibson AM Young Australian Migration Lawyer of the Year Award.
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  • US: Hundreds of attorneys petition top Texas court over law prof's 1-year suspension from pro bono work
    23 March 2015 read more >
    Some 250 fellow attorneys are backing a Texas law professor in his unusual effort to overturn a one-year suspension that, supporters say, will have the effect of depriving pro bono clients of skilled appellate work in death-penalty cases. David Dow, who teaches at the University of Houston, was held in contempt by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for making a late filing in a death-penalty case.
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  • US: Pro Bono Partnership looks after nonprofits
    20 March 2015 read more >
    Rule 6.1 of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct handbook says: "Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay." The rule does not elaborate on why lawyers should participate in pro bono services, but for Susan M. Corcoran, an attorney in the White Plains office of law firm Jackson Lewis PC and a volunteer for Pro Bono Partnership, "You just sort of do it because you want to do it, and you continue to do it."
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  • Survey open: Thomson Reuters TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono
    19 March 2015 read more >
    We want your data! Submission period for the 2015 TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono is now open. The TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono is an initiative of TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono service. The TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono looks at how much pro bono work law firms are undertaking on a country-by-country basis around the world and identifies global trends in the pro bono market place.
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Registrations now open for the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference 2015

25 March 2015

Registrations are now open for the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference 2015, to be held in Sydney on 18 & 19 June 2015. A list of speakers, including Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year, has also been announced.

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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.

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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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