find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
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:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

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

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Firm bolsters culture with pro bono focus
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jan 23 2018
Disrupting traditional archiving and storage methods
Promoted by Fileman TRENDS COME and go but technology and its disruption to the legal landscape h...
Scales of Justice
Jan 23 2018
WA to close ‘legal loophole’ on gender reassignment laws
Laws in Western Australia will soon change to permit married people to undergo gender reassignment s...
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
Jan 22 2018
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
The #mypathtolaw hashtag has been embraced by legal eagles to swap stories with the Twitter communit...
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 & ...