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DLA Piper partners with community legal centre to aid refugees

DLA Piper has partnered with a community legal centre specialising in refugee and immigration law, policy and procedure, established in response to the Afghanistan crisis last August.

user iconLauren Croft 01 September 2022 Big Law
DLA Piper partners with community legal centre to aid refugees
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The global law firm, in collaboration with Pfizer Australia and together with Refugee Legal, supported a special legal clinic that was established in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan — and recently marked one year of operations.

Under the supervision of the legal team from Refugee Legal, lawyers from DLA Piper worked alongside Pfizer Australia’s in-house lawyers to provide advice to people from Afghanistan living in Australia who were seeking to bring their family members to safety.

DLA Piper head of corporate Grant Koch is personally involved in the clinic with his team — and said that Pfizer Australia and DLA Piper lawyers have collectively advised more than 230 people from Afghanistan over the past year, guiding them through the application process and the requirements for reunification visas.


“It was thanks to the collaborative and flexible approach of this group — Refugee Legal, Pfizer Australia and DLA Piper — that this important clinic was established so quickly to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan”, he said.

“We are very proud of what this partnership with Pfizer Australia and Refugee Legal has achieved, but while we are grateful for the opportunity to assist Refugee Legal there are still many people out there who require legal assistance. Hearing people’s stories and their first-hand accounts of the crisis puts in perspective how lucky we are to live in a place like Australia, and helps remind us how important it is that those of us who are able to do so play our part to help those in need.”

The legal clinic was established by Refugee Legal within days of the Afghanistan crisis emerging in August 2021 to respond to the urgent legal needs of the Afghan community. Refugee Legal trained volunteer lawyers in a short amount of time to provide preliminary guidance to those needing assistance, including via interpreters.

The clinic — led by Refugee Legal — is supported by pro bono lawyers from a number of organisations, including DLA Piper and from Pfizer Australia — which David Manne, executive director of Refugee Legal, said he was extremely grateful for.

“We simply could not continue to do the work we do without the partnerships and collaboration of our pro bono partners. Ultimately, so much of our work is powered by these partnerships — and the will of the community for decency and justice,” he said.

“There is a huge amount to be done and, with DLA Piper and Pfizer Australia’s support, we will work fearlessly to help shape change.”

In 2020, Pfizer Australia became a foundation signatory to the Australian Pro Bono Centre’s in-house lawyer pro bono target, where signatory corporates commit to providing at least 20 hours of pro bono work, per in-house lawyer, per year.

Rebecca Lacey, Pfizer Australia and New Zealand senior legal director, said that more in-house firms should be looking to get involved with similar pro bono work.

“This is the first time that our legal team has participated in a legal clinic where we provide advice to individuals. Assisting with the Afghanistan clinic has been a humbling experience and I am pleased Pfizer Australia is involved in such meaningful work,” she said.  

“I hope it inspires more in-house teams to get involved in direct client representation with community legal centres like Refugee Legal as it is the most important pro bono work we can do.”