I wrote this blog originally on October 26, 2012 – that was two and a half years ago. I have updated it and once again I think it is as relevant today as it was when it was originally penned.
For those of you who are not familiar with the word ‘pro-bono‘ it refers to professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee as a public service. Here I make specific reference to lawyers and the legal profession.
Sometimes law firms have specific criteria which they generally adopt to ensure pro bono work reaches those who need it most. The focus is to enhance access to justice for those who cannot afford to pay for it, and to promote the public interest in cases where an individual or group has no other feasible means of gaining access to the legal system.
In my travels round the City of Christchurch I have heard of few lawyers or law firms who are providing pro bono advice for Christchurch citizens in relation to specific insurance related matters. Do any of you know of lawyers who are providing this service? Duncan Webb of Lane Neave participates in the provision of general advise where he can. I would like to know who the other lawyers are. I would be happy to add some details about their services on this blog to those who are providing pro bono assistance.
Many Christchurch residents are currently in desperate need of some pro bono legal assistance particularly with the largest insurer (IAG) pushing to cash settle claims. If there are lawyers out there who need some motivation to do pro bono work then here are a few reasons why I think the lawyers and law firms of Canterbury should be helping out:
- Pro bono is good because it earns lawyers the satisfaction of contributing to their communities in a way that only lawyers can.
- Individual lawyer’s efforts in providing this assistance is evidence of the lawyer’s good character and fitness to
- Pro bono projects enhance a lawyer’s reputations among both clients and peers, which builds trust and helps bring in business.
- The professional contacts that pro bono lawyers develop through exposure to the courts and public service agencies can lead to client referrals down the road.
- Pro bono projects are a great way to gain skills and experience.
- Pro bono work diversifys any lawyer’s professional experience.
- Pro bono work is a great resume addition and a good talking point for interviews.
- These are tough times, as the months march on there are more and more people who cannot afford legal assistance.
- Pro bono work is necessary if the most vulnerable in society are to have access to justice.
There are many people who need your help in Christchurch. There are many people who simply could never contemplate paying the very high legal fees charged these days. In this country it is fair to say that justice has become the preserve of the wealthy.
It is also true that for many firms the insurance industry provides them with a steady supply of work and hence income, so some firms are not prepared to “dirty their own nest”. Yet there are also wonderful opportunities here for firms. Let’s hear from you.
~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.
If you are a lawyer or law firm that would like to contribute a post on your involvement in the insurance debacle then drop me a line or contribute a post – see Guest Archives.