Director Monica Taylor said the centre has been instrumental in connecting students with legal professionals to assist in cases, ranging from tasks in the country’s judiciary, local practitioners and civil society groups to deliver projects that support rule of law.
“Our students dedicate hundreds of pro bono hours each year to help others through the UQ Pro Bono Centre and receive no course credit or material benefit. The fact that students don’t receive formal recognition honours the principle of pro bono work being done purely for the public good,” Ms Taylor said of the program.
While pro bono work is not a suitable substitute for an adequately funded public legal work, Ms Taylor said it helps to bridge the “justice gap” and allows students to develop a greater social conscience and gain practical experience.
UQ graduate Farmin Ahmed said law students worked on a variety of projects, which have included international human rights initiatives.
“Coming from a migrant background, the ability to help people contribute to legislative changes to protect the rights of women was personally and professional rewarding. If you’re fortunate enough to have the means and time to help others, you really have a duty to do it – your position is a privilege, you should use it for the greater good.”
The UQ Pro Bono Centre was established in 2009 by professor Tamara Walsh and Dr Paul O’Shea with the aim of becoming a resource for the community.
Law students are also encouraged to connect with emerging professionals in the fields of medicine and social work to assist with multidisciplinary pro bono projects.