New Director for Legal Resource Centre
1 March 2004 at 12:03 pm
John Corker, a man described as bringing ‘old’ experience and ‘new’ energy, has been appointed as the new Director of the National Pro Bono (Legal) Resource Centre.
Corker has been a judge’s associate, barrister, Aboriginal Legal Aid lawyer, General Counsel at the Australian Broadcasting Authority and most recently, senior associate with Clayton Utz.
According to Corker advocacy and coordination are the new key directions for the Centre.
The new Director wants the Centre to be a champion for pro bono and those who provide it. As well as fostering awards for those who excel in providing pro bono, the Centre will lead discussion and debate on the contentious issue of aspirational targets–proposing that state and federal professional conduct rules should set a minimum target of 50 hours a year, or an hour a week.
Corker says there are some lawyers in Australia doing some extraordinary pro bono legal work but more lawyers can and should be involved. The centre’s job is to make this happen.
During the recent Second National Pro Bono Legal Conference, David Hillard the National Director of Pro Bono with Clayton Utz, put his case for the introduction of a voluntary minimum pro bono target for all Australian lawyers no matter what their length of experience in the profession.
Hillard called on the Law Council of Australia to include a voluntary minimum pro bono target in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and practice and for that target to be repeated within each State Law Societies’ Rules of Professional Conduct.
He emphasised the target was not an attempt to impose any mandatory obligations and the target should be entirely voluntary with no sanction or penalty for non-compliance.
John Corker says pro bono is a good story for lawyers. There is a business case for it. The entire legal profession can gain a lot from embracing pro bono more fully into its culture.
On coordination, Corker says the Centre will expand its focus to include government lawyers and in-house corporate legal teams and the Centre will work actively to facilitate meetings and matchmaking between pro bono providers and those in need.
Committed to providing helpful and relevant resources, he says the Centre intends to enhance its website www.nationalprobono.org.au by adding new services and new resources such as the Guide to Volunteering in Community Legal Centres, to be released next month.
Other resources such as a rural regional and remote pilot study and a ‘mapping pro bono’ project will be added to the Centre’s publications list, which already boasts Australia’s first practice guide and resource kit for law firms, The Australian Pro Bono Manual.
The National Pro Bono Resource Centre (NPBRC) was set up in 2002 by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department to promote a strong pro bono culture in Australia and to remove barriers to pro bono legal work.