Pro bono star lawyer: Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith is member of the corporate and M&A teams at Hall & Wilcox. He is also one of Justice Connect’s pro bono stars, having been involved with us from the moment he was eligible to contribute. He started as a volunteer with PILCH [now Justice Connect] while studying at university and spent almost three years with PILCH and the VicBar Scheme and LIVLAS.
“I always wanted to maintain that connection with the organisation,” said Conrad, “so I jumped at the chance to get involved in the Seniors Law program and have been involved since its inception.”
"With pro bono work you see the very real effect that it has on people, whereas with corporate work you don’t always see that effect."
He is equally effusive when talking about pro bono at Hall & Wilcox:
“The program here allows a large number of people to get involved and provides a structured, regular opportunity to contribute. Rather than ad hoc files or waiting on referrals we are able to be involved in a monthly role.
“It allows staff who want to be involved in pro bono work to do it with ease. It also presents the opportunity for graduates and trainees to have exposure to client interaction via interviews. Mid-senior level lawyers can manage juniors and client files, which is further training,” said Conrad.
When asked to elaborate on the benefits of pro bono, and the difference between pro bono and every day legal work, his passion is evident:
“Seeing the personal and real effect that matters can have on the individual is huge. We are a corporate firm and often deal with issues that aren’t as personally important to the client.
“To be able to help people navigate an issue is extremely rewarding. The highlight comes with each file,” he said.
“It’s a huge contrast to ordinary private practice. Normally I’m dealing with companies and dealing with agreements so it’s a real change of pace to be dealing with personal issues for a client. With pro bono work you see the very real effect that it has on people, whereas with corporate work you don’t always see that effect.
“Pro bono work is a two way street. Not only are we helping the clients, but we are rewarded ourselves. Having a real effect on people and improving their lives gives us a very rewarding experience of our own experience with the law.”
Thanks to the work of lawyers like Conrad, Justice Connect can continue its work increasing access to justice for those experiencing disadvantage.