Corrs Chambers Westgarth lawyer Samantha Maddern has been awarded the 2010 Community Service Law Award in recognition of her pro bono work.
Presented to Maddern by Attorney-General Christian Porter as part of Law Week 2010, the annual award recognises the work of an individual legal practitioner who has made a pro bono contribution for the benefit of the Western Australian community.
Maddern works on a pro bono basis for the Employment Law Centre, offering legal assistance to people with disabilities, young people, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, Aboriginal people and people with limited literacy.
For the past four years Maddern has regularly volunteered her time at an evening legal clinic where she provides clients advice on the legal merits of their cases, reviews legal documents and drafts correspondence or submissions on their behalf.
As a part-time lawyer at Corrs, Maddern is able to spend more time with her family and provide greater assistance to her community.
"There is something very rewarding about helping individuals who would otherwise not have access to any legal assistance. I see many of the most vulnerable people in our community, on low incomes, from non-English speaking backgrounds, on 457 visas, who often have very little idea of their rights but sense that they have been treated unfairly. Sometimes all it takes is a simple letter to resolve these matters," Maddern said.
"Winning this award was simply amazing and totally unexpected...I hope that it encourages other lawyers to get out there and do their bit. No matter how time-pressed we are, there's always a way to juggle responsibilities and to help others less fortunate than ourselves."
Now in its fourth year, the award was presented to Maddern after she was selected by a panel from the Law Society of Western Australia and the Attorney General.
Previous winners of the award include Richard Price of Francis Burt Chambers in 2009 and former Mallesons Stephen Jaques lawyer, Bruce Dodd, in 2008.