Pro bono ‘part and parcel’ of being a lawyer

by Hannah Norton27 Jul 2015
For Simpson Grierson partner Michael Wood, pro bono work isn’t optional – it’s imperative.

"I see pro bono work as being part and parcel of being a lawyer, not just a ‘nice to have’,” he told NZLawyer.

“Volunteering one's time and skills is part of the glue that binds civil society together. Lawyers have a vital role to play in providing access to all aspects of law for those who aren’t able to afford it.”

The firm has just celebrated 10 years of supporting charitable organisation Youthline, by way of annual donations and other fundraising activities.

"We all want to help build a better future for the communities we live in,” Wood said.

“Using Simpson Grierson's expertise and resources to help people in the community is something that we are absolutely committed to. Our partnership with Youthline is something we take great pride in.”

And, in turn, that partnership is hugely valued by Youthline.

"Simpson Grierson has been a consistent partner for 10 years, that consistency has helped Youthline grow into a vibrant proudly New Zealand grown youth development organization,” Youthline CEO Stephen Bell said.

The firm enabled Youthline to step further into the digital space through the provision of a world first text counselling service, Bell said.

“Ten years on we have answered over 1.5 million texts and taken our learnings out into the world supporting other countries to establish text counselling services. Without Simpson Grierson’s belief in Youthline and the ongoing consistent support we would not be all that we have become.”

So why should all firms take part in pro bono work?

Pro bono doesn’t just help the organisations and communities they serve.

“It's also hugely rewarding for those that undertake that work, and we find that it's really important for all our staff to feel that they are able to make a direct contribution to the wider community,” Wood said.

"I get a real buzz from the work I do and the work Simpson Grierson does as a whole.”

Wood became pro bono partner in 2013 and hasn’t looked back, enjoying the role “immensely”.

“It's very satisfying to see the benefits for the people and organisations that we assist, as well as the positive feedback from our staff.”

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