Community


MinterEllison is proud of our commitment to the community. Staying connected and giving back is part of who we are as people and as a firm. We are clear that everyone at the firm has a role to play. Pro bono legal work, student mentoring, workplace giving and voluntary board service – bring together our diverse skills under the umbrella of ‘community partnerships’. Our community partners have valued our long-term commitment to breaking cycles of disadvantage for young people and those on the margins of society. As we look to the future, we are determined to maximise engagement with our people, our clients and our community partners to maximise our social impact.

Top row right: Anton Hermann Director, Pro Bono & Community Investment (Pictured with students from Sunshine North Primary School at their graduation of the SPARK literacy program)



Highlights

  • Employment law clinic provides vital support for disadvantaged clients

    Since 2014, Marrickville Legal Centre’s Employment Law Clinic has provided the Centre’s vulnerable and disadvantaged clients with access to advice about a wide variety of employment law issues. MinterEllison, through the initiative of HR&IR partner Gareth Jolly, has been proud to support the Clinic since inception.

    Several employment lawyers from our Sydney office have attended the Clinic one morning a month, assisting the Centre’s clients to resolve often complex and multiple issues to do with the underpayment of wages and entitlements, termination of employment, unlawful discrimination and workplace bullying.

    Not only have our lawyers found it very rewarding to assist clients who may not otherwise have access to legal advice, it has helped them to develop their client skills and to apply their knowledge to often challenging issues. Recently our work with Marrickville Legal Centre was nominated for a NSW Law Foundation Justice Award.

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    “When you first speak to a client they are often in challenging circumstances and are not aware of their legal entitlements. Helping them understand their options and work towards a resolution is not only important to support equity in the community but is also very rewarding.”

    Bernadette McCabe, Associate, Sydney

  • Supporting Indigenous access to justice

    MinterEllison has delivered outreach legal services for Indigenous clients in partnership with Darebin Community Legal Centre in Melbourne’s inner north since 2005.

    Our partnership began with a pro bono secondment to assess the feasibility of establishing Indigenous outreach clinics in the Darebin local government area that resulted in two clinics being set up. Some 11 years on, a monthly clinic at the Darebin Community Health Service continues to operate with a second service, the Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Service, making regular referrals to the outreach service.

    The Federation of Community Legal Centres recognised our Darebin partnership as an example of best practice in private law firm/community legal centre partnerships in 2013. It also won the Victoria Law Foundation award in 2007.

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    “It is a particular honour to serve one of the most marginalised communities by creating genuine access to justice. The majority of clients are Indigenous elders who meet regularly through an initiative known as the Kookaburra Club. Helping to demystify the law and providing practical advice and assistance to members of the Kookaburra Club has been a life changing experience.”

    Anton Hermann, Director, Pro Bono & Community Investment

  • A new partnership with the Homeless Persons Legal Service

    MinterEllison has a long tradition of working with the Homeless Persons Legal Service (HPLS) in Sydney, providing free legal advice to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

    In December 2015, following a two month trial, we partnered with the Haymarket Centre, to provide a clinic for the HPLS based in Chippendale in inner Sydney. The Haymarket Centre provides a variety of outreach services for men and women, focusing on alleviating drug and alcohol-related issues.

    Since the clinic was launched more than 50 lawyers have provided pro bono assistance to more than 35 vulnerable clients. The experience has reinvigorated our HPLS practice, with a strong identified client need, a range of complementary services, and a supportive, dedicated team of caseworkers.

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    “HPLS is a great opportunity to use my legal skills to make a difference. It has also given me invaluable experience in running my own matters and working autonomously.”

    Carina Jarman, Lawyer, Sydney

  • Encouraging student leaders

    Once again this year MinterEllison was privileged to host the Law Firms Encouraging and Assisting Promising Students (LEAPS) Program in partnership with James Meehan High School in Macquarie Fields, in south-west Sydney.

    The LEAPS program matches Year 9 students from disadvantaged backgrounds with members of staff who provide mentoring support throughout the program. The program is designed for students who are at risk of disengaging from school and their learning, yet show academic potential and leadership qualities.

    The mentors act as role models for the students, with the ten session program designed to assist the students with their growth and development into young adults – focussing on skills that will assist them in their futures. The sessions focus on practical and relevant topics such as goal setting, peer pressure and resume writing.

    More than 35 volunteers from our Sydney office worked with 20 students in this year’s program.

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    “As a mentor I had the privilege to work with and support an enthusiastic and promising young student who, throughout the course of the program, became confident in himself and built the skills he requires to reach his future goals. The LEAPS program encourages future leaders and offers them a platform where the mentors and students can build relationships of mutual encouragement and support.”

    Rochelle Schuenker, Lawyer, Sydney and LEAPS mentor

  • The pathway from disadvantage to success

    From a bond that began back in 2005, the partnership between MinterEllison and Glenala State High School in Queensland has produced some incredible outcomes and inspirational stories.

    Take for example former Glenala student, Lee Vo who arrived from Vietnam aged six and spoke not a word of English. Two years later Lee had topped his Year 3 English class, but by the time he got to high school things had started to slide. Fortunately Lee was able to participate in the Australian Business Community Network’s RISE, Aspirations and Career Choice Day programs (mentoring initiatives run by MinterEllison) before going to successfully apply for a MinterEllison scholarship and work experience program. By Year 12 he was Dux of the school.

    Lee’s connection with MinterEllison continued for some time with a research clerk position and vacation clerk stint in our Brisbane office. Best of all, while at MinterEllison, Lee came full circle, volunteering as a mentor for the RISE program with students from his former school.

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    “I often think back to where I started. How did the boy with no English get to where I am today? I’m so grateful for the opportunities – to the teachers who believed in me, my mentors and my mum – who all instilled the value of education.”

    Lee Vo

  • A united stand against domestic and family violence

    One of the great highlights of our community program is our concerted effort to reduce domestic violence in partnership with Australia’s CEO Challenge (ACEOC), with which we celebrated 15 years of continuous association this year. MinterEllison’s extensive relationship with ACEOC includes:

    • workplace training to recognise, respond and refer domestic violence
    • pro bono legal work
    • provision of office space and administrative support
    • Board participation
    • hosting events and fundraising.

    Darkness to Daylight Run

    MinterEllison worked with longstanding community partner ACEOC to create the Darkness To Daylight Run - an overnight 110km course through Brisbane representing the number deaths caused by domestic violence in Australia every year to focus attention on this critical issue.

    This year, our third Run was transformed into a major public event with over 1,500 participants and raising around $120,000.

    Glenala State High School, one of our community partner schools also took part in the run as their major school fundraiser, with many students and staff turning up early in the morning to complete the popular last 10km leg.

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    “Domestic violence is an issue that affects many in our community who often suffer in isolation and darkness. But there is light at the end of the tunnel with the help provided by organisations like ACEOC. The Darkness to Daylight run carries the clear message that violence in families (or anywhere) is not okay.”

    Rob Reed, Special Counsel, Brisbane and founder of the Darkness to Daylight Run

  • Raising awareness for survivors of human rights abuse

    For the fourth year, our Hong Kong office partnered with Hagar International in organising the annual Hagar Walk to raise funds, to support and raise awareness of Hagar International’s vital work in supporting the recovery and reintegration into the community of women and children who have survived human rights abuse in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam.


    “The Hagar Walk symbolises Hagar’s mission to walk the whole journey of protection, recovery, empowerment and integration with each woman and child who has suffered extreme human rights abuses. What we have raised is not just money, but also the awareness for people to fight against human rights abuse and help restore others’ broken lives.”

    Carrie Lau, Clients and Market Growth, Hong Kong

Our people in the community