Our Pro Bono and Community Investment Program
We are proud of our pro bono practice and our engagement with not-for-profit community groups, individuals and charities. We recognise and embrace the community responsibilities that come with being a successful, respected firm and a representative of the legal profession. For our people, the firm’s community involvement is personally and professionally enriching.
We run a coordinated pro bono practice that acknowledges the time spent by all staff on pro bono matters. Recognising that there is a compelling unmet need for these legal services in our community, we encourage and give full credit for pro bono work to everyone at the firm.
Our Pro Bono & Community Committee comprises of staff from all areas of the firm, including legal professionals and corporate services, managed by Partner, Emma Woolley. The committee considers requests for pro bono legal assistance which are referred by Justice Connect, Hall & Wilcox people and the general public. The committee actively seeks out opportunities to partner with organisations to provide pro bono legal advice and establish long standing relationships with community organizations to provide staff with opportunities for valuable community involvement.
We have fostered close, ongoing relationships with several inspirational community organisations, to which we provide pro bono legal services and other assistance. These include:
- YGAP – Y Generation Against Poverty
- Conservation Ecology Centre – Cape Otway
- Islamic Relief Australia
- Step Back Think
- The Queen’s Fund
- Being an active member of Justice Connect – New South Wales and Justice Connect – Victoria, which provides us with a steady flow of challenging and compelling referrals from not-for-profits and individuals for pro bono legal advice. The advice given comes from all practice areas of the firm.
- Encouraging our people who are involved with worthy causes in the community to use the resources of our pro bono practice to support those causes. Examples include Women in Super a not for profit national organisation founded by women for women, working in the superannuation and finance industries, and Scarf, a community organisation that has developed a restaurant-based hospitality training program for marginalised youth (including migrants and refugees). In both of these cases, a partner of the firm sits on the organisation’s board.
- Operating Justice Connect’s Seniors Law clinic in Footscray and providing legal advice to elderly Victorians. Seniors Law is funded by the Victorian State Government and was established to prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights of older Victorians. Special Counsel Conrad Smith has a long standing relationship with the clinic.
- Providing document support, and legal and administrative assistance to Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre. The assistance to the Centre is provided on an ‘as needed’ basis.
- Being an active member of the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN). Since 2009, we have been involved in the following ABCN programs:
- Focus Program – This program involves senior level female volunteers. The Focus program seeks to provide young women from high needs schools with the essential leadership skills required to engage in a successful, meaningful career. Focus involves students working in small groups with female executives who act as role models and mentors. It aims to support young women to develop their leadership skills and aspire to senior roles in business and the community.
- Aspirations Program – The Aspirations program is designed for high school students to broaden their awareness of career options and help them make informed decisions about their choices and pathways beyond school. Mentors work with small groups of year 11 students from Victoria University Secondary College (VUSC) (our ABCN partner school), to discuss further education and other options to develop the skills that are required in a modern work environment. Aside from the launch session, the sessions are held at Hall & Wilcox offices and include interview techniques, developing essential employability skills and exploring post-school options.
- Spark Program – Spark is a basic reading and literacy program designed for primary school children who require assistance in developing their reading and comprehension skills. These students have been identified by their teachers as having limited opportunities for reading outside of school and would enjoy and benefit from one-to-one attention in the school environment. Volunteers will be paired up and assigned a student who they will read with on alternating Friday mornings at Belle Vue Park Primary School.
- Hall & Wilcox is involved with a number of extra curricular activities with our ABCN partner high school, Victoria University Secondary College, to enrich the educational experiences of their students and provide additional opportunities. The firm provides a scholarship to the highest achieving student from Victoria University Secondary College who goes on to study Law at Victoria University, and also provide this student with mentoring, work experience and paid employment opportunities and many work experience opportunities too. Hall & Wilcox also hosts a number of events with the school, including:
- The annual Career Choice Day with about 30 year 10 students to create and increase awareness of legal and non-legal careers on offer at a law firm.
- The annual moot court competition with VCE legal studies students.