Pro Bono Conference Urges Community Partnerships
20 November 2003 at 12:11 pm
The potential for future partnerships between legal pro bono service providers and community organisations that deal directly with disadvantaged groups was a key theme at this years 2nd National Pro Bono (Law) Conference in Sydney.
And one of the important objectives of this year’s conference was to get both the community groups and the pro bono lawyers together, face to face to discuss to discuss their needs particularly in rural Australia.
The two-day conference was organised by the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (NBPRC).
NBPRC Project officer and conference organiser, Ann Johnson says the partnership theme was echoed through many of the discussions during the event.
Johnson says in particular one of the difficult issues is the culturally differing views on life from the mainly city based legal firms offering pro bono services and the community organisations working outside of cities and crying out for assistance.
She says while both sides may not have left the conference as ‘bosom buddies’ there was certainly a sense of putting a name to a face and physically being able to explain community needs in rural and regional areas.
Johnson says one of the areas that remains unresolved is the difficulties for law firms incorporating into their pro bono programs legal practice areas in which advice is commonly sought by disadvantaged groups.
She says panel discussions for example pointed to not enough pro bono services in the areas of family law.
She says many of the large and medium size law firms that do have the funds for pro bono legal work don’t always have the expertise in this area.
She says the debate continues about what is practical and what can be achieved!
The Conference also saw the launch of the NPBRC Australian Pro Bono Manual published in collaboration with the Victoria Law Foundation. The ‘hands on’ manual for lawyers provides a mixture of commentary, advice, precedents and background information to assist law firms wishing to establish, develop or expand their own pro bono practices.
Individuals can find resources and ideas about pro bono legal work.
You can view or download the manual from the NPBRC website at www.nationalprobono.org.au/probonomanual/index.htm.
Hard copies can be purchased for $35 from the Victoria Law Foundation at www.victorialaw.org.au.