A new program is pairing up small to medium sized regional firms with large city practices for pro bono work.
The Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House’s ‘Rural Regional Remote Project’ is the first of its kind and is a pilot program for future collaborations.
Program co-ordinator, Aimee McVaugh, said the program had funding for the first six months and was based on creating new relationships between firms.
“The program is designed to get bigger regional firms and smaller local firms engaged with large city firms, to broker strong partnerships between them.”
The firms involved in the program are Allens Arthur Robinson which is partnered with Townsville firm Lee, Turnbull & Co. and Blake Dawson which is working with small Emerald firm Anne Murray & Co.
“These partnerships are in the early stages, but we are working with them to develop guidelines for a framework for future collaborations between firms,” said McVaugh.
The firms were matched based on the issues that arise in the regional firm’s community and the legal areas the larger firms specialise in.
The project is based on research by Queensland University of Technology, which found access in regional areas to free legal advice was far scarcer then in metropolitan areas.
“There are many reasons for firms to get involved in this program,” added McVaugh. “It improves the image of a firm, helps disadvantaged communities, attracts talent to a firm and lastly gives large city firms the opportunity to work on cases they might not otherwise come across.”
She said the cases being undertaken at the moment ranged from discrimination and guardianship to tax advice and employment law.
McVaugh said she was keen for other firms to get involved and was happy to help any firm that was interested in making a difference in the community.