Like many others, I went into law to help people and make a difference to them – that's what lawyers do for all clients after all: help them solve problems. I brought with me a passion to play some part in making a positive difference in the community. It took a life changing event in another country to make me realise that I could make this a reality at home. I was in Japan completing the Sacred Run (a relay 'spiritual running' event down the coast of Japan). During this run, which lasted a little over two months, I came to understand how a group of people - when aligned and working together in an organised way - can make a positive difference and accomplish amazing things.
The challenge and the opportunity was to return to Australia and make the difference from the platform I already had in place as a lawyer at a major firm in Brisbane. A coordinated community engagement program was the answer. In my observation, people get so much out of participating in such a program. At an early stage of our national program, we asked our staff what social issues they were passionate about addressing. We then formed relationships with organisations dealing with those issues. Every win, every time we help someone, it's an accomplishment – no matter how minor. And whatever it is, I always see it as a group accomplishment – there are always so many people involved in any achievement.
If I had to choose any one particular achievement that's close to my heart, it would be the Darkness to Daylight Challenge, which was inspired by my experience on the Sacred Run and which we have developed with our community partner, Australia's CEO Challenge. This 110-kilometre overnight run symbolises (for each kilometre covered) the number of lives lost to domestic and family violence (DFV) in Australia every year. People can participate in a number of different ways and together we're literally bringing the issue of DFV out of darkness and into the daylight.
* This is adapted from an interview with QLS CEO for a Proctor article that was published broadly across Queensland.
“We’re all time-poor but I just make priority for pro bono work. It's not only really important for me to do personally, but for the firm as a whole. It’s important that big organisations give back. We’ve got skills and time that we can give to people in need. If we can help people stand on our shoulders and become better at what they do, then that’s time well spent."
"For me, working in collaboration with social enterprises and charities and our dedicated lawyers, the ultimate satisfaction comes from our clients' achievements and gratitude. We know that by working together and applying our core skills in new and innovative ways, we are helping to solve 'wicked' social problems and help change people's lives."
"I have been involved with Homeless Law since I started at MinterEllison because I feel I can give people a voice and access to the law where they would otherwise have none. My pro bono legal work has been a major part of my career satisfaction at MinterEllison."
"I have absolutely loved my time on secondment. It has provided me with the opportunity to gain experience in a range of legal settings through the Homeless Persons' Legal Service.
It has been shocking to see how many clients have suffered from domestic violence, child abuse or discrimination, and to learn about the legal and systemic barriers that prevents them from accessing and maintaining stable housing.
The most rewarding moments have been working together with other service providers, including psychologists, doctors, drug and alcohol counsellors, and caseworkers, to provide integrated support to clients when addressing their legal issues. I have very felt proud knowing that the firm values PIAC as an organisation and shares PIAC's commitment to reducing homelessness."
Ed Davis (secondee lawyer, Justice Connect): "We are very proud of what Ed has achieved during his time here. He made a real, significant and positive difference in many young people's lives." The focus of Ed's secondment was on a law reform project to help trans and gender-diverse young people to access cross-hormone treatment.
Dusan Stevic (secondee lawyer, Justice Connect): "In short, Dusan was one of the highest quality secondees we have ever had and was a joy to have as part of the team. Thank you once again for sharing your 'young guns' with us as part of the secondment program." Dusan's secondment was focussed on Justice Connect's Homeless Law program, including Court and Tribunal representation for clients at risk of homelessness.