HWL Ebsworth are a national law firm that provide pro bono assistance to cancer patients and their families across the country when they are unable to afford the cost of legal advice. In addition to their involvement in the Legal Referral Service, they recently sent Marco and Leith on secondments to the Pro Bono Program to assist in the day-to-day work of the service.
We asked our Marco and Leith about their experience working within a pro bono referral service and speaking with people affected by cancer about their legal, financial and workplace issues.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for people affected by cancer in managing their legal, financial and workplace issues?
Leith: You often see that people affected by cancer are told to get everything in order as soon as possible. I think the emotional stress that this causes to them and their loved ones is the biggest challenge.
Marco: It’s such a huge setback in their lives – in many instances they feel so shell-shocked that their legal, financial and workplaces issues are almost too overwhelming to confront. It was a real pleasure to play a part in helping to alleviate with some of those issues.
Why was it important for to you to get involved with pro bono work so early in your legal career?
Leith: It’s very easy to get caught in the heavy workload which is part and parcel to one’s legal career. Being given the chance to get involved in pro bono work early on has provided insight into how valuable and worthwhile providing such assistance can be.
Marco: I think it sets the bar early. Community expectations of lawyers are constantly evolving and there is definitely an expectation that lawyers will not just serve their clients, but the community as well. So getting involved in pro bono work early in my career instils that ethos from the get-go. HWL Ebsworth have done an excellent job incorporating it into their graduate program.
Highlight the biggest takeaway you took from working within the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program?
Leith: Working within the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program is a hugely rewarding experience. It offers you the opportunity to apply your legal skills to assist people who are most in need of help in our community.
Marco: The Cancer Council Pro Bono Program highlighted the human element to the law which so often gets forgotten in everyday legal practice. It was also clear to me that the Program is run by a super committed, talented and cohesive team.