Since the very early days of our firm, we have held a genuine commitment to supporting vulnerable or disadvantaged people in the community. In almost 15 years our firm has invested over $23 million or over 77,000 hours of time enabling access to justice and enhancing social inclusion for vulnerable Australians.
Today is National Pro Bono Day and to celebrate, we organised a series of activities across our three offices.
In Brisbane, we marked the day by participating in the Queensland Legal Walk. The walk is a celebration of the legal profession’s commitment to pro bono and raises funds for LawRight — a community legal centre founded to provide free legal help to the most vulnerable in our community.
In Melbourne and Sydney we held pro bono expo's with a variety of topics being discussed in mini TED style presentations. Our speakers gave context to their work and spoke from the heart on matters that have truly affected their clients. They gave us unique insight into why the work we do matters - for us, and for our clients.
Adele Moloney spoke about assisting a women living in detention who needed medical assistance to safely deliver her baby. Edward Smith spoke about the challenges of working with clients of The Mental Health Legal Centre and how disenfranchising it can be for clients who are put into a facility for a condition they don't understand. Grant Levy spoke about our support for the social enterprise café Kinfolk, and the work they are doing to support their volunteers, many of whom were unable to gain employment because of their disadvantage.
Pro Bono Partner, Joanna Renkin shared her most memorable pro bono experience:
"Pro bono work resonates most when you know that you’ve had an impact on the way people can experience life or your work has changed the law for the better.
My most memorable moment as a pro bono lawyer was staying with a client in a remote part of the East Kimberley. After a day with Elders discussing legal issues, fishing and going on country — I lay curled up in my swag on a riverside beach looking at the stars and out of the still silence, hearing my generous hosts’ voices rising as they sang to their ancestors next to me.
My most recent pro bono experience has been the collegiate work with other lawyers to reunite an asylum seeker family and transfer their unwell child from Nauru to an Australian hospital. I’ll never forget this work or the distress and despair of the family. The power of being an Australian lawyer able to protect rights and the responsibility I believe comes with this skillset resonated strongly. Hearing of the arrival of the last family member into Australia gave me a real sense of achievement and relief."
Our activities are important platforms to inform our staff about how they can get involved, to celebrate our achievements, and to recognise the contributions of so many across the firm.