The 2019 Who’s Who Legal Pro Bono Award is presented to Clayton Utz, in recognition of the outstanding work undertaken by hundreds of the firm’s lawyers. Among its valuable work is the representation of low-income and vulnerable individuals in Australia who cannot obtain legal aid: an increasingly important service due to legal aid funding cuts in Australia over the past 20 years.
The firm is also recognised for acting on behalf of 170 NGOs and charities in the past year, and its role as a founding member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance, which seeks to promote and increase sustainable practices in the legal sector.
Partner and head of the firm’s pro bono practice, David Hillard, told WWL, “To make a real significance to people’s lives is really rewarding... Our professionals are incredibly proud of what we do.”
Clayton Utz’s successful integration of pro bono projects with its commercial work ensures that each lawyer contributes to the firm’s pro bono goals, ultimately leading to an impressive pro bono culture that distinguishes it among international competitors. It has recently appointed a second dedicated pro bono partner and shows high engagement levels at all levels of the firm. Commenting on this culture, Hillard said, “We have better lawyers because of the pro bono work... We challenge people in different ways and they are more engaged with the firm because of it.”
Quite apart from the crucial work it undertakes, Clayton Utz serves as a fine example to the legal market internationally of the ways in which pro bono can be integrated into a firm’s culture, and as a result, is a thoroughly deserving winner of this year’s award.