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Lending justice a hand

Lending justice a hand

Vying for this year’s College of Law Pro Bono award are six inspiring lawyers who go above and beyond their day jobs to help ensure all Australians have access to justice.

Monique Cowden from Minter Ellison has coordinated the Homeless Persons Legal Service for three years and leads a team of more than 40 lawyers who attend the Women and Girls Emergency Centre. Monique has also been appointed pro bono coordinator at Minters and is heavily involved in developing and implementing the firm’s national pro bono strategy. In these leadership roles, Monique said she discovered that “breaking down preconceptions around what constitutes pro bono work is half the battle”.

In addition to working in a busy personal injury practice at Carroll & O’Dea, Joshua Dale (pictured right) undertakes pro bono work for asylum seekers and also military veterans exposed to radiation during the nuclear tests of the 1950s and 1960s. He also volunteers his time at advocacy group Australian Lawyers Alliance, where he is chair of the Human Rights Committee.  Joshua believes lawyers should take a “grassroots approach” to pro bono work and “actively engage members of parliament”.

Jess Easton manages the Seniors’ Law Clinic for Landers & Rogers, providing pro bono legal services to elderly people who are disadvantaged and marginalised. She also established and now coordinates the firm’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Committee. Landers partner Joanna Renkin said Jess’s work coordinating the clinic has had a “profound impact on assisting vulnerable clients” and commended Jess  for her “passion and dedication” in formulating the firm’s RAP.

Elizabeth_Lathlean.jpgCommercial lawyer Elizabeth Lathlean (pictured left) manages to juggle a full-time commercial practice at Salvos Legal, at least 10 hours of pro bono work each week and university study, completing a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney this year. Somehow Elizabeth also finds time to write for and edit the Salvos Legal’s Your Matters Matter publication, which is distributed fortnightly to commercial clients. Salvos’ managing partner Luke Geary said Elizabeth “works tirelessly” and shows “incredible commitment” to her pro bono clients.

At Justice Connect, Patrick Purcell has made a “significant contribution” to the pro-bono capacity of Not-for-profit Law, which provides free and low-cost legal assistance to not-for-profit organisations. So says Anna Lyons, a manager at Justice Connect, who also applauded Patrick on his “great pro bono leadership”.  Another senior lawyer eager to praise Patrick is 2012 Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Award winner, Sally Macindoe, who said the young lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright has done a stellar job of promoting and encouraging lawyers within the firm to do pro bono work.

The last finalist in this category, Stephanie Puris (pictured below), is also a champion of pro bono at her firm.  Stephanie is the national coordinator of the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre/KWM Cyber Project, which brings together lawyers from King & Wood Mallesons and the firm’s clients to provide pro bono legal advice to young people. Stephanie leads the 120-strong team that responds to queries from children about cyber bullying and family violence, among other issues.

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