Law for good: how Marque Lawyers does things differently
2 August 2022 at 5:32 pm
The word “lawyer” might conjure a particular kind of image for some people, but Marque Lawyers, based in Sydney, is turning preconceived notions on their heads.
Michael Bradley, managing partner at Marque Lawyers, told Pro Bono News the philosophy behind the law firm was a response to its founders’ experiences working in traditional legal practice, which he described as “values-free” and “dispiriting”.
“What really drove us [to found Marque] was the desire to continue being lawyers, because that’s what we love doing, but attach it to a genuine purpose and find some sort of genuine satisfaction and meaning from what we do,” he explained.
An impactful approach
Since its creation, Marque has gained a reputation for taking a different approach to law – indeed, their slogan is “law, done differently”
The firm takes on cases that adhere to its values; recently for example, it appeared in the media for its representation of Mostafa (Moz) Azimitabar, who brought a case to the Victorian Federal Court, challenging the legality of Australia’s use of hotels as Alternative Places of Detention (APODs).
“We have a very strong human rights interest,” Bradley said.
“We are fundamentally a commercial firm and that’s most of what we do, but we’ve always maintained a really strong interest in human rights and we’ve become increasingly engaged in that area.
“We look for maximum impact, so where we take on causes or we get involved in cases, we’re looking for how we can maximise the impact of our capabilities and resources to bring about the kinds of positive social changes that we want to see.”
Taking to Twitter
Those who use Twitter will be aware of Marque’s social media approach. The company’s voice on Twitter is forthright, giving voice to the firm’s values. Occasionally, one could argue it veers into sassy.
When you have to put tolerance and diversity in quotes because you consider them to be contestable ideas… pic.twitter.com/94Fwndqv9t
— marquelawyers (@marquelawyers) July 29, 2022
Asked if that could be problematic for a law firm with cases in court, Bradley says it’s a fair question. There are laws governing the firm’s content production and lawyers must adhere to certain ethical obligations, which he said the firm keeps in mind at all times as it balances what it says on social media with the ethical framework it operates within.
Nevertheless, social media is integral to Marque’s approach.
“For us, social media has been a really powerful medium for giving the firm an external voice and exercising our willingness to have opinions and express them. We think that’s important. We know we are a participant in the public space and we have things to say,” Bradley explained.
He described Marque’s social media presence as “authentic”.
“It’s not marketing for us, it’s an authentic exercise in saying what we think. That’s a good thing for a business to do.”
Transforming law for social good
Bradley argues that negative community perceptions of law are “undeserved”, and said lawyers are often not what people think they are.
“But it is sort of unsurprising because of what the industry has tended to prioritise and how it’s portrayed itself. I think what’s different about us is that we don’t see the social justice or pro bono [work] that we do as giving back. We see it as an integral part of what we do.
“The social purpose of lawyers is to use the law for social good. That’s the only reason lawyers exist. And the closer the profession can come to returning to that purpose, that’s the path to restoring its reputation,” he said.
Marque is pursuing purpose in other ways too, and is a certified B Corp.
In many ways, Bradley said, Marque was a B Corp right from the start, before the company sought certification.
“There was a natural alignment between us and the B Corp philosophy, so it was a very natural step for us to want to certify. It’s been a really happy home for us in the B Corp community.”
Will Marque’s approach inspire other law firms to follow suit?
Bradley hopes so.
“We’re certainly keen to see our own industry become more interested in thinking about why it exists, why lawyers and why law firms exist. I think there is a general trend – and it’s a slow burning one across the economy – towards thinking about business in terms of purpose rather than just profit. And that will ultimately permeate the legal sector as well.”