- Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited operates within the broader community and recognises the importance of supporting this community in a variety of ways, in line with its corporate social and moral responsibility.
- A key way in which Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited can contribute to the community is to facilitate greater access to justice through the development of a program that facilitates participation by its legal team in pro bono legal work, the scope of which is outlined in this Pro Bono Policy.
- Lawyers have a moral, ethical and professional responsibility to provide legal assistance to those who would not otherwise be able to access justice. This is a service that lawyers are uniquely positioned to provide.
- Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited strongly encourages members of its legal team to participate in the pro bono program, although participation is not mandatory.
'Pro bono legal work' defined
For the purpose of Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited's pro bono program 'pro bono legal work' is defined in accordance with the Statement of Principles for the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target developed by the Australian Pro Bono Centre:
a) Giving legal assistance for free or at a substantially reduced fee to:
- individuals who can demonstrate a need for legal assistance but cannot obtain Legal Aid or otherwise access the legal system without incurring significant financial hardship; or
- individuals or organisations whose matter raises an issue of public interest which would not otherwise be pursued; or
- charities or other non-profit organisations which work on behalf of low income or disadvantaged members of the community or for the public good;
b) Conducting law reform and policy work on issues affecting low income or disadvantaged members of the community, or on issues of public interest;
c) Participating in the provision of free community legal education on issues affecting low income or disadvantaged members of the community or on issues of public interest; or
d) Providing a lawyer on secondment at a community organisation (including a community legal organisation) or at a referral service provider.
The following is not regarded as pro bono work for the purposes of this statement:
a) giving legal assistance to any person for free or at a reduced fee without reference to whether he/she can afford to pay for that legal assistance or whether his/her case raises an issue of public interest;
b) free first consultations with clients who are otherwise billed at a firm's normal rates;
c) legal assistance provided under a grant of legal assistance from Legal Aid;
d) contingency fee arrangements or other speculative work which is undertaken with a commercial expectation of a fee;
e) the sponsorship of cultural and sporting events, work undertaken for business development and other marketing opportunities; or
f) time spent by lawyers sitting on the board of a community organisation (including a community legal organisation) or a charity.
Coordination of the program - Pro Bono Coordinator
Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited's pro bono program is coordinated and administered by the Pro Bono Coordinator, as appointed by the General Counsel and in default, the position is held by the General Manger.
It is the Pro Bono Coordinator's role to:
a) manage the day to day operation of the pro bono program, including:
- sourcing pro bono legal work;
- approving and allocating matters;
- drafting memoranda of understanding, secondment agreements and other partnership agreements for review by the General Counsel;
- developing and implementing processes to support the efficient and effective operation of the program; and
- Determining whether there is sufficient capacity at any time to take on the work;
b) promote participation in the pro bono program, in line with Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited's goal of at least 20% percent of the members of its legal team undertaking pro bono legal work each year;
c) foster and develop relationships between Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited and its referrers;
d) confirm that professional indemnity insurance is in place for the pro bono legal work undertaken as part of the program;
e) confirm that, where appropriate, a letter of engagement has been sent to the pro bono client;
g) arrange appropriate training;
h) track, measure and report on the pro bono legal work undertaken as part of the pro bono program; and
i) keep the General Counsel informed of the work of the pro bono program.
Assessment of requests for pro bono assistance
It is the Pro Bono Coordinator's role to assess requests for pro bono assistance, with support from the General Counsel as required.
The Pro Bono Coordinator is responsible for:
a) being the contact point for community and/or law firm partners in relation to any external pro bono program;
b) assessing any requests for assistance against the definition of 'pro bono legal work' adopted in this Policy;
c) confirming that the proposed work does not create a conflict of interest and seeking advice when necessary;
d) identifying a lawyer (or lawyers) and a supervising lawyer in the team to work on each approved pro bono matter, taking into account capacity and expertise;
e) ensuring that the lawyers working on a matter are aware of their practising certificate and professional indemnity insurance obligations;
f) confirming with the pro bono client that assistance can be provided through the program, or communicating why the request for assistance has been declined;
g) providing the pro bono client with their lawyer's contact details; and
h) where appropriate, asking the lawyer responsible for the matter to prepare an engagement letter, including outlining the approach to any costs and disbursements, and ensuring that this occurs.
Pro bono legal work and service standards
- Pro bono legal work undertaken as part of the pro bono program can be carried out during normal business hours
- Pro bono legal work is to be carried out in the same way, and with the same diligence, as other legal work carried out by the team.
- Pro bono legal work will be credited and recognised in accordance with the organisation's legal time recording policy.
Professional indemnity insurance
- Before a lawyer commences pro bono legal work as part of the organisation's pro bono program, professional indemnity insurance must be in place.
- Where the pro bono legal work is part of a partnership with another organisation that carries its own professional indemnity insurance (for example, a law firm, community legal centre or pro bono referral organisation) the partner's policy is likely to provide coverage. This should be confirmed in writing prior to any work being undertaken.
- Where the project is being undertaken by Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited independently the Pro Bono Coordinator should obtain coverage under the National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme by applying to the Australian Pro Bono Centre. Work should not commence until an approval letter is received confirming that coverage is in place.
Before commencing any pro bono legal work each lawyer must confirm that their practising certificate permits this work.
Letter of engagement or memorandum of understanding
- Before commencing any pro bono legal work, the lawyer responsible for the work should determine if a letter of engagement or memorandum of understanding is required.
- If a letter of engagement is required, the lawyer responsible for the work should prepare the letter and send it to the client.
- If a memorandum of understanding is required, the lawyer responsible for the work should prepare the memorandum and send it to the partner organisation.
Use of organisation resources
Lawyers participating in the pro bono program are permitted to use the organisation's resources in the same manner as they would for any other legal work being undertaken by Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited.
- All lawyers participating in the pro bono program must report the hours of pro bono legal work they have undertaken per matter to the Pro Bono Coordinator every six months, or as otherwise required.
- The Pro Bono Coordinator is to provide the General Counsel with a summary of the hours of pro bono legal work undertaken as part of the pro bono program every six months, or as otherwise required.
- Although Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited strongly endorses participation in the pro bono program, lawyers who participate in the program are not acting in their capacity as a lawyer for the organisation. They are acting in their personal capacity with support from the organisation.
- To ensure that this is made clear to pro bono clients assisted through the Goldman & Co Lawyers Pty Limited pro bono program, where the project is insured through the National Pro Bono Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme, the letterhead provided by the Centre should be used for all correspondence and the following words included:
- Where the project or work is being insured through some other means, lawyers should discuss the appropriate wording to include in correspondence with the Pro Bono Coordinator.
I am providing this advice on my own account through a pro bono project approved by the Australian Pro Bono Centre. All queries in relation to the matter should be directed to me at [insert appropriate contact details].