In Australia, Ashurst’s pro bono practice has been focused on responding to the social justice needs exposed further by the bushfires and COVID-19 crises.
Global Managing Partner Paul Jenkins said: “This year has been devastating for many but especially for communities who were already facing years of marginalisation and disadvantage.”
“By dedicating and applying our legal and non-legal skills, Ashurst employees have been able to support those most in need during a difficult period.”
In response to the 2019-20 bushfires Ashurst’s Australian Pro Bono Manager was immediately deployed to support NSW Community Legal Centres to support with the coordination of resources. Ashurst also assisted a number of Community Legal Centres with submission writing to the Senate Inquiry into 'Lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20'.
Ashurst lawyers also provided pro bono advice to many existing and new pro bono clients on legal issues emerging from the pandemic.
Their Law Reform Project has provided over 13,265 pro bono hours of support since 2017, on over 119 matters, performed by over 355 lawyers. The project aims to support Community Legal Centres and front-line service lawyers with background advocacy support by way of research, cross jurisdictional analysis and literature review.
During the lockdown period Ashurst had over 100 lawyers and graduates work on research specifically under the Law Reform Project. They also supported front line pro bono clients with legislative updates on COVID-19 impacted legislation and policy. This was aimed at arming these services with the most up to legal and policy positions that would impact communities experiencing disadvantage and individuals living rough.
Patrick O'Callaghan, Managing Solicitor of the Western NSW Community Legal Centre said the support from Ashurst has been invaluable: “Ashurst has allowed us to focus on supporting our clients through the pandemic by providing us with research and updates on the legislative and policy changes affected by COVID-19. The information we obtain is invaluable for us and remote community agencies to whom we share it.”
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