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Australian Government Solicitor

 

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AGS wins in 2014 in-house lawyer awards  

AGS wins Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award

On Thursday 20 November 2014, AGS's National Manager Pro Bono Services Geetha Nair, and our legal team of more than 80 lawyers who undertook pro bono work in 2013–14, won the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the 2014 Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) In-house Lawyer Awards in Adelaide. The Awards recognise excellence in the provision of legal services and the contribution made by in-house lawyers, whether in government or corporate legal departments.

Since 2008, we have increased our pro bono contribution annually. In 2013–14, it was over 7,500 hours of pro bono legal work, valued at more than $2.6 million. This is an increase of 2,300 hours and 44% since our first full year in 2009–10.

In 2013–14, we continued established relationships with public interest clearing houses and community legal centres in each State and Territory and included new placements with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (NSW), the Women’s Legal Centre (ACT) and the Consumer Action Legal Centre (Victoria).

An example of our work this year is with the Women’s Legal Centre in the ACT in developing and drafting of kits to guide self-represented litigants in matters involving care and protection orders for those in the community who do not have the capacity to pay for legal assistance but need to navigate the relevant court processes.

AGS is proud to have assisted the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations with establishing the LawHelp Pro Bono Referral Scheme that provides pro bono legal advice to Indigenous corporations in corporate law, governance and legal compliance. In 2013–14 AGS provided advice on contracts, intellectual property and employment matters to 4 Indigenous corporations.

We offer a range of services to not-for-profit and charitable organisations to ensure their resources can better deliver their community objectives and help the disadvantaged. In 2013–14, we provided assistance to the Fred Hollows Foundation and CARE Australia. New clients for 2013–14 included UN Women Australia, ChildFund Australia and Suicide Prevention Australia and Hear For You. Lawyers from all 3 practice groups worked on matters for these pro bono clients.

Internationally, we have a well-established training program for lawyers of the Papua New Guinea Department of Justice and Attorney General. An innovative project in 2013–14 involved a new pro bono partnership with Bridges Across Borders, South East Asia Community Legal Education Initiative Australia and a number of other legal firms to draft modules to be used as part of the university curriculum in Vietnam and other South-East Asian countries. We are also advising the PNG Family and Sexual Violence Case Management Centre based in LAE on its employment contracts and governance issues.

Our commitment to make a substantial and sustainable contribution to improving access to justice is reflected in our increasing pro bono contribution, in terms of hours and number of organisations we have assisted, as well as increased participation by lawyers from all our practice areas in our program.

'We were overwhelmed by the number of nominations this year, the quality of each finalist and the winners are reflective of the high standard of professionals within the in-house legal industry,' said ACLA CEO Trish Hyde.