Our Focus and Our Clients
Although we act for a broad range of clients we prioritise services to indigenous clients, people with a disability and refugees. At least one third of our client group base consists of indigenous individuals or organisations.
How we do it
Many of the our clients are referred to us through community legal centres, community organisations and legal aid. We also undertake work for clients we meet through the various outreach programs we are involved in. Individuals, groups and organisations are also welcome to contact us directly.
The Pro Bono team meets weekly to review and discuss the requests received for pro bono legal assistance during that week. We assess whether the firm has the relevant legal expertise and capacity to undertake the work. We also look at a prospective client’s means when assessing pro bono matters. We do not keep a waiting list of matters to be placed, however if we cannot assist you we will try to refer you to someone who can.
Some of the things we do
We undertake a broad variety of pro bono work from small matters to test case and public interest litigation. We provide advice and representation to clients in areas as diverse as corporate and commercial advice and assistance, employment advice, tax advice, intellectual property advice and property work. We also undertake submission writing and policy work as well as community legal education. An important part of our practice is trying to ensure that individuals who are at risk of losing their jobs, homes, opportunity to seek education, or access to other fundamental services, are provided with access to justice.
Our practice also has particular expertise in assisting Aboriginal clients seeking to recover unpaid wages while a ward of the state through the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme. We also assist many indigenous clients in rural and remote areas with Victims Compensation applications. We also have expertise in relation to human rights and discrimination matters and have worked on a number of test cases and public interest matters.
We also have expertise in working with community organisations, particularly indigenous community organisations. We assist these organisations to meet their corporate governance obligations and advise them on commercial issues they may face, for example, advising on funding agreements, contracts, memoranda of understanding and tax issues. We work to provide creative and effective responses to the legal needs of our clients by collaborating closely with the community organisations which work with them. Those collaborations enrich and invigorate our practice, and we are extremely grateful for the support of those organisations.
We undertake a range of outreach programs where we provide legal advice to some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in our community. We provide:
- legal advice on a weekly basis to the homeless at the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo as part of the Homeless Persons Legal Service
- two lawyers at the Marrickville Legal Centre evening advice session on a weekly basis
- our female lawyers represent those client’s escaping from domestic violence through the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme at the Downing Centre Local Court on a weekly basis
- a monthly advice session at the Wyong Neighbourhood Centre and the Wyong Women’s Health Centre.
Gilbert + Tobin lawyers assist clients from all over Australia including those from a number of rural regional and remote areas such as Cape York, Arnhem Land, Alice Springs, North Western New South Wales and the Central North Coast of New South Wales.
Our policy and submission work is also another important part of our pro bono practice. Through this work we seek change to benefit client groups we represent. Our pro bono practice has made submissions in relation to issues affecting refugees, homeless people, on the issue of stolen wages and access to justice generally.
Apart from acting in matters involving apprehended violence orders, we do not undertake criminal work, wills and estate work, personal injury work, immigration work (apart from refugee matters) or family law work.
Some of our clients
We work with a number of indigenous organisations and foundations including:
- the Yothu Yindi Foundation
- Cape York Land Council
- Cape York Partnerships
- Mungindi Local Aboriginal Land Council
- Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships
- Dharriwaa Elders Group
- The Charlie Perkins Children and Students Trust
- Australian Indigenous Minority Suppliers Council
- Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre
- Indigenous Community Television
- the Roberta Sykes Foundation
- Djarragun College
- The Central Australian Stolen Generation and Families Aboriginal Corporation
- Gunawirra Limited.
Some of our major clients in relation to people with disabilities include Parkinsons NSW, ParaQuad, People with Disabilities Inc., the Intellectual Disability Rights Service, Beverly Park School Kids Inc, The MJD Foundation and the Disability Discrimination Legal Centre.
In the health sector we have long acted for Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia and the Fred Hollows Foundation and more recently the Touched by Olivia Foundation.
Other community organisations for whom we provide pro bono legal and other assistance are:
- Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
- Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation
- Lady Gowrie Child Care Centre
- UNIFEM Australia
- the Jackie Chan Foundation
- the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW
- St James Ethics Centre
- Diversity Council Australia
- The Institute for Cultural Diversity
- Caretaker’s Cottage.