A publication of the Australian Pro Bono Centre

Round-Up: 20 October 2022

Story of the week

Unlocking the power of the law
Australia’s legal processes are notoriously challenging, but Grata Fund is working to make the courts more accessible to NFPs creating social change. All legal work carried out is done pro bono, with 100 per cent of its funding provided by donations from crowdfunding and philanthropy.

National News

Information commissioner spends more than $560,000 in legal fees to defend FOI delays
Former independent senator for South Australia Rex Patrick has alleged ‘unreasonable delay’ in a Federal Court action against the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for failing to release sensitive information in a timely manner. Former Senator Patrick is assisted by a lawyer and barrister, both acting pro bono, while OAIC has incurred more than $560,000 in legal fees.

'It’s horrible’: Lawyer Jen Robinson on the toughest part of working for Assange
Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson reflects on the challenges of defending disenfranchised clients around the world. Pro bono remains a core part of her practice including representing exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wanda on a pro bono basis for the last 20 years in his fight for independence.

Holding Redlich delivers nearly 10,000 hours of pro bono work in FY22
National firm Holding Redlich grew its pro bono practice in FY2022, committing 38.5 hours per lawyer and surpassing the Australian Pro Bono Centre’s National Target. The firm provided 10,000 hours of pro bono work for clients such as the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, Afghani asylum seekers and victims of financial abuse.

Updates from the Australian Pro Bono Centre

New Board member - Esther Bogaart

We are delighted to welcome Esther Bogaart to our Board of Directors. Esther is the Nominee of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and First Assistant Secretary, First Nations and Justice Policy Division at the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.

For a full list of our board members, see here.
Welcome to the Centre Olivia and Laura!

The Centre recently welcomed two new Policy and Project Officers, Olivia Roney and Laura Toren.

Olivia has a background in social entrepreneurship, impact and systems change, and is due to be admitted as a lawyer in late 2022. Currently Olivia is on Amnesty International Australia’s Youth Advisory Group, and co-runs Pride by Side, a global network of experts building the capacity of LGBTIQ+ initiatives.
Laura is on a 12-month secondment from Australian Government Solicitor. Formerly, Laura was employed by the New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for over two years, as a graduate and then as a solicitor.

For more information about our staff, see here
The next generation of pro bono workflow management: Firm Manager

In collaboration with Norton Rose Fulbright and DLA Piper, Justice Connect has launched Firm Manager, a powerful, intuitive, and secure system to manage the work of pro bono teams in law firms.

For more information, see here.

International News



Singapore: Foreign spouses, sandwich class get pro bono help in new scheme
The Family Justice Support Scheme has been designed to fill gaps in Singapore's current legal system, including those in the “sandwich class” - Singapore citizens, PRs and foreign spouses who marginally fail the Legal Aid Bureau’s means test but are unable to afford a lawyer at regular rates.


Namibia: Are Compulsory Pro Bono Requirements for Lawyers Constitutional?
The Minister of Justice recently announced that the ministry is considering amendments to the Legal Practitioners Act which would require lawyers to provide a minimum of 120 hours of pro bono work each year for clients with limited means.

Kenya: Legal clinics to address inequality in access to justice
Amnesty International-Kenya has partnered with the Law Society of Kenya and the Paralegal Society of Kenya to offer pro bono assistance through community awareness forums to Kenyans who continue to suffer a lack of access to justice.


Practical ways in-house lawyers can fight the climate crisis
In-house lawyers are key to shaping green initiatives within their organisations. To mark the approach of Pro Bono Week 2022 and COP27, Lawyers for Net Zero and the Chancery Lane Project share practical ways in-house legal teams can effect positive change against the climate crisis.


What’s Your Pro Bono Origin Story?
In this article, Judge Elizabeth Stong recounts her pro bono origin story working on a civil action case against the US Commerce Department and Census Bureau. Despite losing the case, she describes how pro bono matters have influenced much of her career, because "once you do pro'll be back."


ExpertsDirect Pro Bono Service  

A service for pro bono and community lawyers, connecting them with professionals who are willing to provide expert witness services for free or at low cost in legal cases assisting those experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation.

See our website for more information.

Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme

The Centre operates the Scheme to encourage and support in-house corporate, government and volunteer lawyers to undertake pro bono legal work. The Scheme provides free insurance to lawyers and paralegals working on pro bono projects approved by the Centre.

Click here to find out more about the Scheme or to apply for cover.

Social Justice Opportunities

For the latest career and volunteering opportunities:
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands on which we work throughout Australia. We pay our respects to the Elders – past, present and emerging – and the youth who are
working towards a brighter tomorrow.
The Australian Pro Bono Centre is grateful for the funding support it receives from the governments of the Commonwealth and all states and territories, and the in-kind support it receives from Australian Government Solicitor, private firms, volunteers and the Faculty of Law & Justice at UNSW Sydney, which includes the use of the Faculty’s premises and facilities and support from student interns.

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