The Sydney-based head of DLA Piper pro bono - International, Nicolas Patrick, will fly to London later this month to attend a conference bringing together all of the firm's dedicated pro bono partners.
Patrick was appointed to the role, in which he oversees DLA Piper's pro bono programs across Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific, in May.
He told Lawyers Weekly that the conference in London will bring together the firm's four full-time pro bono partners, as well as commercial partners in charge of the pro bono programs in other regions where the firm operates.
In addition to Patrick, DLA Piper has two dedicated pro bono partners in Washington DC and another pro bono partner in South Africa, with the associated firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
"The conference brings together many lawyers involved with pro bono and corporate social responsibility programs across the firm," said Patrick.
Patrick is a board member of the firm's pro bono project "New Perimeter", which was launched in 2008. In recent years, it has undertaken pro bono programs in Kosovo, Namibia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Guyana, where lawyers from the firm helped to train judges at the request of the chief judge.
In October, Patrick will go to South Africa for one week as part of a team of lawyers from the firm that will go to Pretoria to teach courses to students on the structure and administration of special economic zones.
Patrick said this type of sustainability work and research is largely based on the pro bono work the firm does in East Timor, where DLA Piper has a lawyer from Melbourne seconded within the government who provides advice on economic reform proposals.
"The New Perimeter project was set up to deliver pro bono legal services in places where the firm doesn't have a physical presence," said Patrick. "A lot of the work that we do is on developing post-conflict countries."
As the head of pro bono - International, Patrick said he wants to encourage offices throughout the DLA Piper network in Europe and Asia to do more pro bono work, not necessarily in their home jurisdiction.
"This is a unique challenge for some of our offices," said Patrick. "In some of these places, it is not possible to do pro bono work locally, because regulation prevents lawyers from doing legal work for free.
"Through the New Perimeter initiative, the firm can provide opportunities for lawyers in places where perhaps there is not a strong local pro bono culture."
Patrick said that in Australia, DLA Piper lawyers currently do 55 hours of pro bono work per year. That is well above the target set by the National Pro Bono Resource Centre's aspirational target of 35 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per year. Over 40 law firms have signed up this target.