UQ Pro Bono Centre: an untapped resource?
Pro bono work now occurs in a more structured, targeted, measurable and visible way than ever before. This is not just the case for practitioners; law students now also have a greater opportunity to become involved in the delivery of pro bono legal services. The UQ Pro Bono Centre at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, is a fantastic, largely untapped (by barristers) resource for pro bono cases.
In its seventh year of operation and the only such resource in Australia, the Centre has a ‘Volunteer Roster’ of some 400 law students who have registered their willingness to undertake pro bono work. The Law School believes all its law students should recognise the value of pro bono work and strongly encourages them to commit to undertaking pro bono work both while they are students and throughout their professional careers.
In negotiation with our pro bono stakeholders (such as barristers who have agreed to accept a pro bono brief and/or QPILCH through the Court Self-Rep services offered), the Centre offers flexible pro bono placements for Roster students and selects suitable students after an application process. Barristers can nominate a preferred level of knowledge of students:
- Participating students are at least in their third year of a law degree. The completion of a certain law course (criminal, family, trusts, commercial etc.) can be a requirement of the role if necessary.
- Students can assist taking instructions, preparing chronologies and lists of authorities, proof-reading submissions, analysing evidence and transcripts, photocopying and filing documents and assisting in court on the day.
- UQ students can produce high quality legal research with their skilful use of law library databases. The legal research might focus on case law, legislation or legal policy. Students can work externally at UQ, and provide their research via email if that is the most effective use of your time and resources.
- There is access to academic oversight. The Centre is able to draw on the considerable goodwill and expertise of law academics at UQ should that assistance be necessary. Academic involvement is naturally subject to staff teaching and research commitments, but the Centre will always seek to facilitate that involvement where appropriate.
- As an authorised volunteer activity, student pro bono placements are covered by UQ insurance (public liability, personal accident).
Your involvement will serve as an inspiration to soon-to-be lawyers as you demonstrate the extent of the professions’ commitment to pro bono work. As a pro bono activity, students receive no academic credit for their involvement but their experience with ‘real law’ will add very high value to their study and in their future careers. Their contribution is also modestly recognised at an annual informal awards lunch and on the Centre’s website.
To request a pro bono student placement please use our online request form: https://ssl.law.uq.edu.au/probono-assistance-request/ Alternatively you may contact the UQ Pro Bono Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org or 3365 8824.
For more information about QPILCH membership or participation in the Bar Pro Bono Referral Service, please contact QPILCH on 3846 6317 or email@example.com