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Lawyers granted meaningful legal work

An initiative soon to be launched by Australian Volunteers International (AVI) will offer lawyers the chance to apply their legal skills to pro bono work in developing countries. The programme -…

An initiative soon to be launched by Australian Volunteers International (AVI) will offer lawyers the chance to apply their legal skills to pro bono work in developing countries.

The programme - Lawyers Beyond Borders (LBB) - will be officially launched in May by Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland, with lawyers called on to join as members and receive regular updates on legal-related volunteering opportunities.

"I think Australia has a fantastic record of pro bono legal work," said David Bates from the Victorian Department of Justice, who is currently on secondment at AVI to set up the initiative.

"It's a strong part of the legal profession here. We have a lot of expertise in a whole range of areas of law that would be very helpful to developing countries in our region."

Bates told Lawyers Weekly that while the programme will place lawyers in areas of need overseas, some developing countries do not have the capacity to house as many Australian lawyers as are interested in participating, so other initiatives will be included such as online mentoring and volunteering.

"If a developing country was trying to develop a certain piece of legislation that required a certain skill they don't have the expertise for, they could tap into the Australian legal expertise online via the LBB programme," said Bates

- Angela Priestley

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