In-house counsel pro bono work

23 February 2016
Do good. Feel better. Pro bono legal work is a powerful way to put your legal skills to work for the community.
By providing accessible, tailored legal help to small, volunteer-reliant not-for-profits, we help the helpers. Our work lets them spend their time and money on doing their real job, whether that is providing refuge for women and children fleeing family violence, caring for those with a disability, managing community-based housing, responding to emergencies or protecting the environment.
 
Thanks to recent changes in the law, in-house lawyers for Australian companies can engage in pro bono work, and Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service can help you do this.  In 2016, Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service ran a project for in-house corporate lawyers. With support from the Percy Baxter Charitable Trust (managed by Perpetual Trustees), the Project allowed us to trial new ways for in-house lawyers to provide pro bono legal support to charitable community organisations.  We have seen strong support from in-house lawyers and we already have strong leadership from the companies who have been involved in the project including ANZ, Australian Energy Market Operator, Bendigo Bank, HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Telstra, Vicinity Centres and Westpac. 
 
"It is incredibly easy and rewarding to use your professional legal expertise to help the community. Charities have similar legal issues to corporates. Your knowledge is invaluable in assisting them with these issues, so that they can get on with doing great work."
Carmel Mulhern, Group General Counsel at Telstra, Justice Connect Board Member, and Lawyers Weekly Excellence Award winner

Doing pro bono work for community organisations in-house

Justice Connect's Not-for-profit Law service has two main pro bono opportunities suitable for in-house lawyers: 

1. Referral program for community organisations​:

  • ​Not-for-profit Law does all the front-end triage work; taking details, considering the legal merit and what legal help is needed.
  • We package the information and offer opportunities to in-house lawyers to take on files directly. We do this for the full range of legal issues in-house lawyers are skilled at including contracts, IP, employment and privacy.

  • Lawyers get direct client experience and the satisfaction of utilising their skills to assist the community, with minimal impact on their in-house rol

2. Reviewing and drafting of legal resources for the Justice Connect's Not-for-profit Law information hub at www.nfplaw.org.au

 
While the Project is now finished, if you are interested to know more about how in-house lawyers can assist the work of Justice Connect's Not-for-profit Law service, please contact Sue Woodward at sue.woodward@justiceconnect.org.au or 03 8636 4468.