By Gianna Huesch
Access to justice is a topic currently under the microscope in Australia, with the Justice Project, a national review being conducted into the impediments to access to justice, expected to reveal its findings by the end of this month.
One of the ways our firm seeks to contribute to greater access to justice for all Australians is through our pro bono work. The term “pro bono” comes from the Latin phrase, “pro bono publico” which translates as “for the public good”, and refers to legal work undertaken without charge for a client on low income. Unlike in some countries, where lawyers are mandated to complete a certain number of hours per year of pro bono work, in Australia there is no official obligation to undertake pro bono work, just a moral one.
At Alliance, both in our family law and criminal law sections, we regularly act for low income or disadvantaged Australians in several ways. Our solicitors participate in a roster of Womens Legal Service advice nights and the Legal Advice Bureau of the Law Society ACT, providing free advice to our vulnerable local community members.
Our “free first conferences” offer is also a form of pro bono work, as we may conduct between 5 or 10 of these conferences each week in the ‘high season’, and often point people in the right direction if discussions on potential costs establish that they can’t afford to retain us as their lawyers. In such situations in our free conferences, we then attempt to guide people and provide them with resources and referrals which can further help them with their matter, at no charge.
Alliance’s principal solicitor, Cristina Huesch, notes of our pro bono work:
“We assess where we think vulnerable clients need access to justice and where we feel the matters have merit. We don’t quantify what we do, but having said that, we had a recent case where we did $95,000 of billable work on a difficult family law case involving a 3-day hearing, and we may never see those fees. But we accept that risk because we deemed the client who had suffered domestic violence deserved a fair hearing in court. Essentially, we do it to ‘give back’ to our community.”
Do you need assistance with a family law matter? To arrange an appointment for a free 30-minute no-obligation consultation, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Read our previous blog on the Justice Project: https://www.familylawincanberra.com.au/a-new-committee-to-uncover-systemic-flaws-in-access-to-justice/
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.