16 October 2012

Clayton Utz Pro Bono practice achieves 400,000 hours milestone

Sydney, 16 October 2012: Clayton Utz today achieved the remarkable milestone of 400,000 hours of pro bono legal assistance and representation provided free to disadvantaged people who could not obtain Legal Aid and to the non-profit organisations which support disadvantaged people. 400,000 hours is the most pro bono work ever conducted by an Australian law firm.

The 400,000 hour landmark coincides with the release by the firm of 15 highlights from 15 years of Pro Bono practice, which follows the development of the Clayton Utz Pro Bono practice since it was established in July 1997.

The 15 highlights touch on familiar themes of the Clayton Utz Pro Bono practice: responding to disadvantage, acting primarily for people rather than organisations, working collaboratively with community legal organisations, government and other law firms, and focusing on communities in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Over 15 years, Clayton Utz has acted on a pro bono basis for more than 3,000 people and nearly 1,000 non-profit organisations, and assisted thousands more people at 18 different outreach legal advice clinics.

Prominent achievements include the quashing of Andrew Mallard's murder conviction by the High Court and his release from gaol after 11 years, the creation of a world-first Emissions Reductions Purchase Agreement which allowed communities in Ethiopia to use a reforestation project to sell carbon credits through the BioCarbon Fund of the World Bank, and securing more than $2 million in compensation for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and sex slavery.

Clayton Utz pro bono partner David Hillard said: "Most of our clients do not have notable legal test cases, but all have legal problems which are enormously significant to them. The people we act for cannot obtain Legal Aid and cannot afford a lawyer. Without our pro bono assistance, they would likely fall through the cracks of our legal system."

David has led the Pro Bono practice at Clayton Utz since 1997, and has championed a Pro Bono culture across Australia’s legal profession. His passion and professionalism has helped to transform the access to justice landscape in Australia. In 15 years, David has exposed thousands of lawyers to the idea that pro bono work is an inherent part of every lawyer’s professional responsibility, regardless of their seniority or area of practice.

Clayton Utz Chief Executive Partner Darryl McDonough said: "In 15 years of our formal Pro Bono practice, Clayton Utz has helped to change what it means to be a successful Australian law firm. We are proud of that leadership, and proud that our dedication to Pro Bono practice is such a real part of what makes us Clayton Utz."

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