At Gilbert + Tobin, pro bono is a vital part of what we do and who we are. It has been a feature of our practice since the firm’s beginning in 1988, and in 1996 we became the first firm in Australia to appoint a full-time, in house pro bono lawyer. Our pro bono team has grown with the firm and we now have two pro bono partners, Michelle Hannon and Anne Cregan, who work alongside three full-time lawyers. Whilst we have a dedicated pro bono team, all lawyers in the firm provide legal representation and advice to a range of marginalised and disadvantaged people and organisations. In 2017-18, the firm completed more than 21,314 hours of pro bono work at an average of 62.3 hours per lawyer, conservatively valued at $10.4M.
Our pro bono work has a particular focus on assisting Indigenous people and communities, people with disabilities and refugees. We undertake work in a range of areas including discrimination, employment, housing and asylum matters. Our lawyers travel across the country to assist people in need and to provide personal, face-to-face legal services.
Just some of the 600 matters we were involved with last year included:
- Appearing on behalf of clients in jurisdictions from the High Court of Australia to Finley Local Court;
- Travelling to more than 15 regional and remote communities to undertake a variety of projects, from wills and estate planning clinics to housing repairs and repatriation of Indigenous remains;
- Attending the Asylum Seeker Centre each week to assist refugee applicants pursue their claims for asylum;
- Helping to establish and provide ongoing advice to not-for-profit organisations assisting people in areas as diverse as disability, Indigenous communities and homelessness services; and
- Engaging in policy and law reform work in areas that include child care and protection, recognition of people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in custody.