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Most BigLaw firms are supporting the Voice to Parliament

With the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament potentially drawing near, Lawyers Weekly spoke with a number of BigLaw firms to understand which are, and which are not, publicly pledging their support.

user iconJess Feyder 06 March 2023 Big Law
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In March 2019, 18 law firms banded together to publicly pledge support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Other institutions in the legal profession have also been outspoken on the necessity of a Voice to Parliament, including the Australian Lawyers Alliance and the Law Council of Australia. 

Late last year, Lawyers Weekly spoke with several BigLaw firms to understand the role lawyers might play in the referendum — which will be called in this term of Parliament. 


Several of the firms discussed the advocacy efforts they would engage in, with some of the key goals being to educate staff and the broader community. 

Recently, Lawyers Weekly reached out to 29 BigLaw firms operating in Australia to discern which firms will publicly pledge support. 

A notable majority of the firms stated that they are pledging support for the Voice publicly, including Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Allens, Herbert Smith Freehills, Norton Rose Fulbright, Hall & Wilcox, DLA Piper, Holding Redlich, Baker McKenzie, King & Wood Mallesons, Slater & Gordon, Macpherson Kelley, Maurice Blackburn, Piper Alderman, Lander & Rogers, Ashurst, Arnold Bloch Leibler, Gilbert + Tobin, Hive Legal, and MinterEllison. 

Last year, Holding Redlich discussed, in Lawyers Weekly’s quarterly digital magazine, why the Voice will be a “meaningful step towards reconciliation”.

“It would empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and ensure that they have a greater say on the laws, policies and programs that shape their lives,” the firm’s national pro bono manager Guy Donovan and Nareeta Davis — a pro bono lawyer, descendant of the Purga Mission, with cultural connections to the Kullilli Thargomindah people — said at the time. 

“Law firms are well-placed to respond to the Statement from the Heart and accept the invitation that it extended to the Australia[n] people; accordingly, it’s important that we do so.”

Arnold Bloch Leibler is one of the firms that has also been significantly engaged. Senior partner Mark Leibler and the firm have taken a national leadership position in advancing and advocating constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for more than a decade.

The global head of Ashurst’s pro bono practice and social impact program commented on the chance to advocate for the Voice: “The upcoming referendum this year represents a historical opportunity to walk together in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

While Allen & Overy has chosen not to make a public statement as of yet, the firm is taking steps to encourage staff, so they have a genuine opportunity to understand the significance of supporting the upcoming referendum and its importance to First Nations peoples.

Dentons chose not to comment on their stance, however, was one of the 18 signatories the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

Australian Family Lawyers has also opted not to take a stand, as the firm wishes to be seen as politically neutral. 

Lawyers Weekly reached out to several other firms and did not receive a response by the time of filing this story, including Bartier Perry, Maddocks, Colin Biggers & Paisley, White & Case, Pinsent Masons, Levitt Robinson, Clifford Chance, and HWL Ebsworth. All these firms were also not signatories to the public pledge of support for the Uluru Statement in 2019.