Lawyers working in the Johannesburg and Cape Town offices of pan-African corporate law firm Bowman Gilfillan Inc delivered R13.7 million in pro bono work for worthy causes during the financial year to end February 2013.
Lawyers in the group clocked just over 7 890 hours of pro bono work, with the average number of hours for each lawyer being 24.4.
According to Fatima Laher, Pro Bono Manager at Bowman Gilfillan: “This is a wonderful achievement on the part of our lawyers and support staff. We work towards building strong stakeholder relationships with the non-profit sector in order to source deserving pro bono work. We have also formed partnerships with different organisations.
“Our firm is fully committed to pro bono work, and our policy in this regard encourages every lawyer to be involved. My role is to coordinate Bowman Gilfillan’s pro bono work and to assist with identifying deserving causes to benefit from our programme.”
Pro bono clinics are an important way for Bowman Gilfillan to expose the maximum number of lawyers to pro bono work, and to ensure that lawyers can access work that appeals to their area of interest in justice and human rights.
At the clinics, clients are seen and advised of their rights. Where possible, steps are taken to resolve problems immediately. With more complex matters, files are opened at the firm and the client is assisted on a pro bono basis. In terms of this programme, Bowman Gilfillan offers services to refugees through the Refugee Clinic which is coordinated and hosted by ProBono.Org, the firm’s partner in the delivery of services.
Similarly, pro bono services are offered to individuals with their housing problems via the Housing Clinic which is also coordinated by ProBono.Org. In addition, lawyers offer their pro bono services to labour law clients through the South African Society of Labour Law held at the Labour Court in Braamfontein.
Bowman Gilfillan lawyers also service the Domestic Violence Helpdesk at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court where domestic violence victims are assisted and supported through the process of obtaining a court interdict against perpetrators.
“The Group has also commenced an exciting flagship project involving pro bono corporate legal services to small business and start ups. Clients are referred to the firm through its partnerships with various organisations servicing the sector,” said Ms Laher.