Pro Bono Lawyers Project
22 June 2009 at 5:37 pm
The Federal Government is to fund a project to help retired lawyers and lawyers taking a break from their careers to become involved in pro bono legal work.
Funding of $40,000 will be given to the National Pro Bono Resource Centre for the project.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland says lawyers approaching retirement and lawyers taking a break from their careers are a valuable and underutilised resource for providing pro bono assistance, particularly in regional and rural areas of Australia where there is a shortage of lawyers.
He says this funding will create opportunities for lawyers’ skills and experience to be utilised and to facilitate their involvement in pro bono activities.
The National Pro Bono Resource Centre has been conducting a research project since October 2008 to identify the issues and make recommendations on how potential senior pro bono and career break lawyers can be provided with opportunities to get involved in pro bono legal work.
The Centre has conducted over 30 interviews with 40 key stakeholders. Roundtable discussions and consultations were held with many of these stakeholders in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in March 2009.
The Centre’s Executive Director, John Corker says there are approximately 4000 solicitors aged between 65 and 70 who are on the books of law societies across Australia.
Corker says while it is difficult to estimate when these solicitors are likely to retire the number of retiring lawyers is increasing each year.
He says to best utilise retired lawyers’ skills and experience, new projects should be developed.
He says this is the best way to unlock the full potential of what retired lawyers have to offer.
The preliminary research suggests a number of new project ideas have been suggested to the Centre and the Centre believes some of these are viable provided operational support is available.
It says further consultation and partnering with appropriate organisations will be vital to make these projects a success.
Corker says part of this new Lawyers Project will be to establish a data base of interested lawyers, work with placement agencies to create opportunities, establish a matching process and communicate with older members through law society newsletters.
The full report of the study into opportunities for senior lawyers is due for release in mid July.