THE OLD ADAGE ‘it’s who you know’ now rings true for Brisbane’s Centenary Canoeing & Rowing Club, whose coach Wei-Loong Chen turned out to be a senior associate at Clayton Utz with enough sway to encourage the firm to provide it with pro bono legal advice.
Having taken on the responsibility to coach two teams in recent months, Chen saw that the club needed help in more areas. “The club had always looked at expanding and becoming a fully fledged club. Once I started to get more involved in its activities, I realised they really needed legal advice on how to run their operations,” Chen said.
Seeing an offer of top-tier legal advice as one worth accepting, the club took it on board. “They particularly saw the importance of putting in place a proper legal structure and governance system and I thought Clayton Utz could assist with that,” Chen said.
“On that basis, I approached Randal Dennings, a Clayton Utz Brisbane partner and Brisbane pro bono co-ordinator, who agreed that this would fit within the firm’s pro bono scheme.”
The club made an official application to Clayton Utz this year for assistance under the scheme. Not long afterwards, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced a grant of $500,000 to the club for a new storage shed.
Clayton Utz’s input would be invaluable, the club’s vice-president and director of rowing, Simon Newcomb said. “Starting a new club from scratch — especially a rowing club — means setting up a huge legal and financial structure,” Newcomb said. “It is important to have the right structure in place not only so we can administer the grant but for the club’s ongoing development.”
Clayton Utz has now advised the club on establishment issues, including an appropriate corporate structure, assisting with fundraising initiatives, managing its relationships with its stakeholders, and putting in place appropriate legal risk management procedures.
The firm’s involvement with the club would help raise the club’s corporate standing, said Newcomb. “Big business sat up and took notice when they heard that Clayton Utz was prepared to assist this fledgling organisation and then saw that it would be worthwhile supporting its emergence as doing something positive for young people,” he said.