find the latest legal job
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Solicitor - Insurance and Health
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Newcastle NSW 2300
· Dynamic organisation · Outstanding career opportunity
View details
Solicitors Barrister and Registered Migration Agents
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· We are an established multi-disciplinary practice located in North Sydney. ·
View details
Commercial/Projects Lawyer (4+ PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Fantastic, supportive working environment · Wide variety of work, direct client contact
View details
Time trials for in-house lawyers doing pro bono

Time trials for in-house lawyers doing pro bono

In-house lawyers want their number of approved hours for pro bono work increased or allocated differently so they can finish advising on select matters._x000D_

In-house lawyers want their number of approved hours for pro bono work increased or allocated differently so they can finish advising on select matters.

Lawyers are spending large parts of their day grappling with the legislation and case law relevant to a specific pro bono matter, without enough time to follow it through, Telstra legal counsel John Cross has said.

“We’re looking at talking to [Telstra] management about a different model of engagement with pro bono: either to get more lawyer days approved or the same number of days and have them allocated in a different way,” he said.

Cross coordinates Telstra lawyers to work at the Salvos Legal In-house Pro Bono Desk.

Telstra’s pro bono program is voluntary, but a large number of lawyers are interested in it and would like to be able to do more hours, according to Cross.

He would not comment on the number of hours that Telstra lawyers are working pro bono but said it is more rewarding for them to have greater continuity with pro bono matters.

“That’s one of the stimuli for talking to management and I think we’re going to see an increasing commitment,” he said.

In-house lawyers are not required to work a continuous week, or commit  to working 35 hours a year, at the Salvos Desk and may spread their time, a day at a time, through the year.

Cross provides general legal advice to Telstra’s Innovation Products and Marketing (TIPM) team, but his work at the Desk is vastly different from his day job.

“In Telstra I’m confident to give off-the-cuff advice about pretty much anything, immediately,” said Cross.

At the Desk, where Cross has been advising on family law matters involving tenancy arrangements and de facto rights and criminal matters where people have been accused but not charged with an offence, he said he lacks that immediate familiarity with all the relevant legislation and case law.

As a long-standing practitioner, legal research is not something he has to do on a frequent basis anymore.

“That’s a very interesting process to have to go back to ... [but] a large part of your day can be taken up before you actually get to grips with a final advice,” he said

Salvos Legal prefers in-house lawyers to volunteer for at least a couple of days at a time or on a multi-day basis (for example, one day per week or per month), so they can follow matters through, Cross added.

Keeping it simple

Advising in areas including criminal, family, debt, and refugee law, in-house lawyers working at the Desk have to couch their advice carefully.

Cross concentrates on drafting in plain English in his day job but said that is taken to a “completely new level” for clients at the Desk.

“There’s a big challenge in that; to say something very simply but for it to be actually legally correct.”

When asked why Salvos Legal was chosen as a pro bono partner for Telstra, alongside Public Information Legal Clearing House in Victoria and others, Cross said the firm stood out as unique and effective in its approach.

In November 2010 it became a ‘first-of-its-kind’ commercial legal practice; funnelling the profits generated by its speciality commercial legal services straight back into its humanitarian arm – providing a free legal program for society’s most needy.

The In-House Desk launched in August 2012.

 “It’s extremely basic for people who are used to large law firms or sophisticated corporations ... but perfectly adequate to do the work that you do there,” said Cross.

As a lawyer, you can loose touch with the idealist notions of justice that you start out with as the pressures of making a career play out, said Cross.

“It’s really nice to be able to go back and see you’re actually doing social good with a skill that you’ve acquired,” he said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Community Legal Centres NSW has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission
Jul 28 2017
CLCs welcome Indigenous incarceration inquiry
Community Legal Centres NSW has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into the r...
Jul 27 2017
Legal body commends funding for independent crime stats
The Queensland Law Society has applauded the state government’s commitment to fund a new independe...
Jul 27 2017
Virtual marketplace to bolster lawyers’ skills
An industry-first online symposium and virtual marketplace has issued a call to action to legal prof...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...