An Adelaide-based Minter Ellison lawyer has taken out this year's Law Society of South Australia Justice Award.
Corporate group partner Josh Simons took top honours in the award which recognises the achievements of members of the legal profession in improving access to justice.
Simons was instrumental in establishing a free legal clinic for the marginalised and homeless in Adelaide in July 2006.
The clinic, which is run by the Welfare Rights Centre (SA) and staffed by volunteer lawyers from various firms, has provided pro bono assistance to more than 2,000 clients since it opened.
There are now seven such clinics in Adelaide, and a new regional legal clinic which connects the homeless in country towns with city-based lawyers is being trialed in Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Kadina and Coober Pedy.
"It means so much," said the clinic's first-ever client, David Norman. "When you're homeless and unemployed you can be made to feel very small. When you've got legal representatives of this calibre, doors start to open. You are no longer ignored."
In 2009, Simons was also instrumental in having the state's electoral laws changed to allow homeless people to register to vote.
He also worked with the Magdalene Centre and the Financial Planners Association to establish a pro bono financial advisory clinic which provides simple budgeting and financial advice to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.
Presenting the award at the Law Society's Annual Dinner on Friday last week, last year's winner, barrister Stephen Kenny, paid tribute to Simons.
"Josh embodies the true spirit of what the [award] is about - someone going above and beyond the call of duty in a quest for justice for all," he said.
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