Allens Arthur Robinson head Michael Rose has praised the leadership of other law firms in helping to establish links with Indigenous organisations.
Speaking with Lawyers Weekly to mark the one year anniversary of his firm's Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Rose said his firm's decision to adopt a RAP was in line with moves from the general legal community to get more involved in Indigenous issues.
"I think there has been some inspired leadership shown in this area by Danny Gilbert and Mark Leibler in particular," Rose said.
Both Gilbert + Tobin and Arnold Bloch Leibler are supporters of Reconciliation Australia, with Leibler the co-chair of its board. Both firms also do significant amounts of pro bono work within the indigenous community, with G + T one of the first law firms to develop a RAP in October 2008.
Rose said that at Allens, it was a desire to expand the firm's level of engagement with Indigenous bodies beyond existing pro bono legal work that provided the catalyst for the firm to develop a specific RAP.
"For about one year before it was formally introduced we looked at developing a RAP as a response to many people within the firm seeking to become involved and engaged with Indigenous organisations," Rose said. "The philosophical objectives were about raising awareness, building relationships and developing respect."
Allens has joined the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council (AIMSC), which puts Aboriginal owned businesses in contact with private sector companies. Through its contact with AIMSC, Allens now uses the Indigenous organisation Message Stickto supply the majority of its audio conferencing servicesand the firm has expanded its Winter Indigenous Clerkship program to law students across all its Australian offices.
In the past year, Allens has taken 16 Aboriginal interns. The firm is also a signatory to the Australian Employment Covenant devised by the Western Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest which aims to create 50,000 Indigenous jobs.
Reconciliation Australia also uses the Allens RAP as a benchmark for "best practice".
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