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Update on Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers’ pro bono work and community involvement

Update on Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers’ pro bono work and community involvement

Published on May 15, 2024 by Adrian O’DeaAdrian O’Dea

Our tradition of pro-bono

Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers has a long tradition of providing pro bono legal services for disadvantaged or marginalised individuals as well as providing pro bono assistance and advice to various non-profit organisations who provide direct support to people with needs.

Our Pro bono work includes a full range of legal activities including legal opinions and advice, drafting of documents, research, negotiations, litigation, representations to government bodies and involvement in law and legal policy reform and community legal education.

Community organisations and not-for-profit

A number of the firm’s employees volunteer at community legal centres or serve on the boards of charitable or not-for-profit organisations such as schools, domestic and international aid agencies or trustees of charitable trusts. Employees are also encouraged to serve on the committees of the Law Society as well as regional Law Societies.

Pro-bono referrals

Many pro bono matters come to the firm by way of referrals from an existing community or legal aid agency. These sources of referral include:

  • Community legal centres
  • Aboriginal legal services
  • The Legal Aid Commissions
  • The Law Society and Bar Association referral services
  • Courts and tribunals
  • Religious organisations and parish priests
  • Other charitable bodies
  • Social workers
  • Justice Connect
  • Lawyers for the Arts

How we help individuals in need

By way of example, the firm receives numerous referrals from the Cancer Council concerning people who are of limited financial means and who need assistance with the preparation of a will, an enduring power of attorney or the appointment of an enduring guardian. This assistance often not only provides great comfort to the individual concerned but also to members of the person’s family who appreciate that steps have been taken to place the person’s affairs and estate in better order.

A further example involves the direct referrals from the New South Wales Law Society Pro Bono Scheme. Recently, the firm was able to work in close collaboration with lawyers in the Access to Justice Division of the New South Wales Law Society to recover significant funds which had been paid by the disabled client to a builder for works which were never undertaken. With the assistance of the Court and the NSW Sheriff’s Office over a protracted period, the funds were ultimately able to be recovered to the immense relief of the client.

Carroll O’Dea Lawyers represented an NDIS participant on a pro bono basis, in the context of an ongoing dispute as to the extent of daily care he required in his own accommodation with a view to his eventual transfer to an aged care facility. The dispute resulted in an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal where both sides were legally represented. Following the collection of additional medical evidence and an independent assessment by an occupational therapist, an agreement was reached between the participant and the NDIA. The participant was able to remain in his own home with adequate support until he located suitable long term supported accommodation.

These are just some of the examples of the impact of our pro-bono work.

Also, the role of our lawyers on important bodies including the NSW Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), the various NSW Law Society Committees, regional Law Societies and other professional bodies provides a significant contribution to our legal community and by extension, the broader community particularly in work which supports the most vulnerable in our society.

The firm recognises that in addition to the benefits that accrue to the community, there are also significant benefits for the firm and its employees including enhanced professional development, a varied and life enriching experience and enhanced morale.

Pro bono work forms part of the professional duties of the team of lawyers working at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers, and the partners of the firm support making available the skills, talents and resources of the firm and its people to individuals and not for profit organisations who would otherwise not have access to them.

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