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Aussie Law Firm Reaches Pro Bono Milestone

9 July 2015 at 11:00 am
Xavier Smerdon
Australian Law firm Clayton Utz has reached a milestone of 500,000 hours of pro bono legal, becoming the first firm outside of the USA to do so.

Xavier Smerdon | 9 July 2015 at 11:00 am


Aussie Law Firm Reaches Pro Bono Milestone
9 July 2015 at 11:00 am

Australian Law firm Clayton Utz has reached a milestone of 500,000 hours of pro bono legal, becoming the first firm outside of the USA to do so.

Clayton Utz has marked the achievement by funding a new national Health Justice Partnerships centre.

“This is a first for an Australian law firm, and for any firm outside the US,” Pro Bono partner and national practice leader, David Hillard said.

Clayton Utz and the Clayton Utz Foundation have celebrated the milestone by announcing the establishment of an Australian Centre for Health Justice Partnerships.

“Health Justice Partnerships (HJPs) create better health outcomes and improved access to justice by delivering community legal services to patients within the health system,” Clayton Utz Foundation Chair, Steve Murray said.

“They use healthcare professionals to identify when a patient has potential legal problems and to link them with a lawyer onsite, meaning that earlier legal intervention can prevent health and legal issues from escalating. Around 15 pioneering HJPs now operate in Australia.

“Many people with a legal issue never consult a lawyer. Research shows that people are more likely to speak with a trusted healthcare provider about a legal problem than seek out legal advice. For example, a woman experiencing domestic violence may not be allowed to leave her house for anything other than medical appointments. Training health workers on how to refer her to a lawyer actually based at the hospital or community health centre can have life-changing, and life-saving, effects.”  

Murray said the Clayton Utz Foundation had played a key role since 2011 in nurturing the HJP movement, including funding an HJP with Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and Bendigo Community Health Services.

“The creation of a national centre was a recommendation made by Clayton Utz Foundation Fellow Peter Noble in his August 2012 Report to the Foundation "Advocacy-Health Alliances: Better Health Through Medical-Legal Partnerships,” he said.

“There are some great HJPs operating in Australia, and we need more of them.”

“A national centre will support our colleagues working across the health and legal professions to develop HJPs, and will have a transformative effect on how legal services are delivered to vulnerable people at times of real crisis in their lives.”

Murray said the centre will focus on policy development and be a focal point for a more permanent HJP presence in Australia and will work with a range of health and justice organisations, including Justice Connect, the Health Justice Partnership Network in Victoria and the NSW Health Justice Partnership Community of Practice, to get the centre up and running by the end of 2015.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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