find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Firm bolsters culture with pro bono focus

Firm bolsters culture with pro bono focus

Pro bono

An Australian firm says a stronger focus on completing pro bono work has boosted the overall health of its practice and its lawyers.

Speaking at a pro bono panel in Melbourne recently, Russell Kennedy Lawyers pro bono manager Emma Dunlevie said placing importance on this kind of work has seen numerous “psychological and morale-boosting benefits for practitioners”, while also providing the opportunity for the firm's lawyers to expand their skills by working in new and often innovative areas.

“Pro bono is a critical element in a lawyer’s professional identity and helps to make the rule of law a reality,” Ms Dunlevie said, referring to research.

“It is an ethic of service to the legal system and the public good, and marks lawyers as professionals rather than just practitioners or business people.”

Ms Dunlevie also shed light on some of the structural elements of Russell Kennedy’s pro bono practice.

She noted that pro bono is a distinct practice area for the firm, with dedicated managers, lawyers and a representative committee. Pro bono files are treated for all purposes in the same way as billable files, she added.

Also speaking at the event in Melbourne was Russell Kennedy principal Victor Harcourt, who asked the panel to differentiate between what effective and ineffective firms are doing in their pro bono programs.

The general consensus was that, apart from providing formal management structures and resources, firms with a strong pro bono culture develop a program on “sustainable building blocks of longstanding, deep relationships with a handful of key partners and clients”.

The event also featured Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula, who addressed the need for firms to provide access to justice for vulnerable people in the community. He also pointed to the Victorian government model as helping to drive an even greater pro bono commitment from law firms.

John Corker, CEO of the Australian Pro Bono Centre, said that under a single national model, reporting for firms could be improved if undertaken in a similar fashion to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target.

He noted that by ensuring that the reporting requirements are consistent nationwide, firms would be able to compare their programs more fairly and also collaborate more effectively in their pro bono efforts.

“Whichever way you look at it, there is no doubt that the profession is making progress,” Mr Corker said.

“There are now 12,000 lawyers in Australia operating under the aspirational target of 35 hours per lawyer, per annum. And for the first time, this year that national target was reached.

“Another way to look at it is that there is now the equivalent of 223 lawyers in private law firms in Australia doing nothing but pro bono work all year.” 

Pictured: the Russell Kennedy pro bono panel.

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

Firm bolsters culture with pro bono focus
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Consultation
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
IBA
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Queensland University of Technology, ruby milestone
Oct 23 2017
Queensland law school reaches ruby milestone
Celebrating 40 years since establishing a law course in 1977, the Queensland University of Technolog...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...