find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
New pro bono law boon for Victoria

New pro bono law boon for Victoria

In-house lawyers in Victoria will soon be able to provide pro bono legal services in the same way as their private practice counterparts.

On 2 March, Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark MP announced that legislation allowing Victorian in-house lawyers to undertake pro bono work will soon be introduced.

Until now, the practising certificates available to Victoria’s 2,700 in-house lawyers limited them to providing legal advice to their employer only.

The government’s announcement came after lengthy lobbying by the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA), the Public Interest Law Clearing House VIC (PILCH) and the National Pro Bono Resource Centre that raised concerns about legislative barriers being the principal obstacle to in-house lawyers undertaking pro bono work in Victoria.

If passed, the Legal Profession and Public Notaries Amendment Bill 2012 will amend the Legal Profession Act 2004 and remove “unnecessary” restrictions that currently prevent corporate lawyers from volunteering their services.

Clark said the restriction has long been a source of frustration for legal practitioners and has also been a “lost opportunity” for the Victorian community.

“There is no good reason why in-house lawyers who work for businesses, governments or community organisations should not able to provide the same range of pro bono assistance to the community as lawyers engaged in other forms of legal practice,” he said.

“Freeing up the law to allow corporate lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance is a common sense reform of the legal profession that was ignored for years by the previous Labor Government.”

The reforms mean Victoria will join Queensland and New South Wales in lifting the restriction – a decision which has been welcomed by Trish Hyde, the CEO of ACLA.

“We have long held the belief that Victorian in-house lawyers should be allowed to undertake pro bono work,” she said.

“If passed, thousands of in-house lawyers, previously prevented from using their professional expertise outside their workplace, will be able to give back to the community just like their private practice counterparts and in-house lawyers elsewhere in the country.”

Hyde said ACLA now hopes to work with the South Australian Attorney General’s Department on similar reforms in that jurisdiction.  

Fiona McLeay, the executive director of PILCH, joined Hyde in her praise of the decision.

“The current law significantly reduces the pool of lawyers who are able to do pro bono work. This in turn entrenches the disadvantage many individuals face – legal advice is often expensive and out of reach for many in the community,” she said.

“The proposed reforms will unlock an opportunity for in-house lawyers to provide free legal services for marginalised and disadvantaged Victorians.”

McLeay urged parliamentarians to get behind the legislation and “show their commitment to a justice system that is fair and accessible to all Victorians”. 

“Passing this legislation would be a step towards that,” she said.


Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

New pro bono law boon for Victoria
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...