Ensuring society’s most vulnerable have access to legal services is the focus of The University of Queensland’s Pro Bono Centre, which is celebrating a decade of continued service to the community.
Director Monica Taylor said during the past 10 years the Centre had connected law students with legal professionals to help veterans, domestic violence survivors and other at risk individuals.
“Our students dedicate hundreds of pro bono hours each year to help others through the UQ Pro Bono Centre and receive no course credit or material benefit,” Ms Taylor said.
“The fact that students don’t receive formal recognition honours the principle of pro bono work being done purely for the public good.”
Ms Taylor said that while pro bono was not a substitute for an adequately funded public legal system, it helped bridge the justice gap, and students developed a greater social conscience and gained practical experience.
UQ graduate Famin Ahmed said law students worked on a variety of projects including international human rights initiatives.
“Coming from a migrant background, the ability to help people contribute to legislative changes to protect the rights of women was personally and professionally rewarding,” Ms Ahmed said.
“If you’re fortunate enough to have the means and time to help others, you really have a duty to do it – your position is a privilege, you should use it for the greater good.”
The Centre has a strong partnership with Papua New Guinea and UQ law students undertake a variety of pro bono research tasks to help the country’s judiciary, local practitioners and civil society groups to deliver projects that support the rule of law.
The UQ Pro Bono Centre was established in 2009 by Professor Tamara Walsh and Dr Paul O’Shea, and has evolved to become a resource to the local, national and international community.
Law students are also encouraged to connect with emerging professionals in medicine, social work and other fields to assist with multidisciplinary pro bono projects.