Providing a secondee to a civil society organization working to combat climate change.

Following the devastating bushfires in NSW and Victoria in the summer of 2019/20, the legal community was called upon to provide pro bono assistance to the individuals and communities impacted by the tragedy.

Justice Connect agreed to coordinate the pro bono response by receiving all bushfire-related pro bono referrals from frontline workers across the two states and connecting them with one of the 163 law firms that had answered the call to help.

Makinson d’Apice Lawyers sent Pro Bono Senior Associate Ella Alexander on secondment to Justice Connect from February to June 2020 to be the dedicated bushfire response lawyer in the Public Interest Law team.

In this role, Ella was responsible for speaking to help-seekers to identify their legal issues and then finding appropriate lawyers to assist. This required collaboration with Justice Connect member and non-member firms, Legal Aid, and a range of community legal centers and bushfire recovery centers across NSW and Victoria.

Having oversight of all bushfire-related pro bono matters meant that Ella was able to work with the team to identify and address systemic legal issues facing bushfire-affected communities; for example, through submissions to the Bushfire Royal Commission and preparation of community legal education resources in areas of need.

“It was heartbreaking to talk to so many people who had lost their family members, homes, and livelihoods in an instant. But I was amazed by their resilience and inspired to see the legal profession come together to support the community in times of crisis.” – Ella Alexander, Pro Bono Senior Associate