On Wednesday, Ashurst presented its new Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP), outlining measurable actions the firm will take to strengthen the financial inclusion and resilience of up to 3.3 million persons across the nation experiencing “severe vulnerability or exclusion from mainstream financial institutions”.
Ashurst global managing partner Paul Jenkins said he was proud the firm was joining the initiative, noting all individuals should have access to the legal system, irrespective of their financial situation.
“We believe the legal profession has an ethical obligation that extends beyond solving our client’s legal issues,” he said.
“This includes providing support to our staff, clients and the communities in which we operate when they are experiencing financial hardship.”
The firm’s FIAP will focus on specific priorities for its existing pro bono clients, providing legal support on the FIAP to other participating organisations, and training for its staff.
In addition, commitments laid out include reviewing matter management services for pro bono clients to involve assessments of financial health, and a review of procurement processes to identify existing or new supplier relationships that promote financial inclusion.
“We believe this will make a tangible difference and I am proud that Ashurst is the first global law firm to sign up to this initiative,” Mr Jenkins said.
The FIAP Partnership Group said Ashurst is joining a growing community of organisations that “understand they play a critical role” in Australia’s financial future.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Good Shepherd Microfinance general manager Dr Vinita Godinho said, together, this community can reduce inequalities and realise inclusive growth for all Australians.
“Financial hardship can impact us all, at any stage in our lives – through the FIAP, our hope is that every organisation will be able to respond in time and every time to ensure financial hardship can be identified early, managed and overcome,” she said.
“By building capacity, awareness and greater access to appropriate products and services, organisations will see the social and economic benefits in their engagement, outcomes and prosperity of customers and employees.”