- How did the KWM/Law Access Judicial Review Clinic come about?
One of KWM’s key objectives is to harness the legal skills and experience of our lawyers to benefit the community. We believe that giving pro bono advice to vulnerable and disadvantaged people is part of fulfilling our professional responsibility and helps to improve access to justice.
The Judicial Review Clinic was ultimately developed between KWM and Law Access in response to there being an increased need for representation of asylum seekers in applications for Judicial Review in the Federal Circuit Court from decisions of the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA).
KWM, as a member of the Lawyers For Refugees Network in WA, has a history of providing pro bono legal assistance to asylum seekers. Prior to the commencement of the Judicial Review Clinic in 2019, KWM was involved in a legal clinic supporting The Humanitarian Group’s TPV Project, whereby KWM lawyers would assist asylum seekers in Western Australia who were subject to a fast track assessment process for temporary protection visas to prepare their applications. Once the applications were in however, it was expected that there would be an influx of applications for judicial review as asylum seekers’ TPV applications were denied which was likely overwhelm community legal centre resources and so there was a greater need for private sector support.
Law Access initially approached KWM about providing some more clinic style assistance to asylum seekers and eventually this turned into the Judicial Review Clinic.
- Why did you volunteer to coordinate the Judicial Review Clinic?
Emily Lamberto: As a clerk at KWM, I had the opportunity to participate in a refugee and humanitarian program which aimed to assist entrants apply for a Temporary Protection Visa or a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa. It was humbling to sit next to someone whose experiences are far from what I could begin to comprehend. When the opportunity arose to participate in the Law Access Program once I’d commenced as a solicitor with KWM, I was eager to continue my involvement to assist people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in the judicial review space.
Emily Bell: I think improving access to justice is very important. I had participated in Law Access’s Walk for Justice as part of the KWM team in previous years and knew about the important work that Law Access does for the community. When KWM and Law Access began the Clinic, I thought it was a great opportunity to assist by volunteering to co-coordinate.
- What have you most enjoyed about the project?
Emily Lamberto: It is often the case that grounds for judicial review can be hard to identify and difficult to establish. When arriving at the clinic, I find it compelling to read through a file regarding a refugee to point to matters on which to build a case for referral of the client to a barrister who best can take their grounds for appeal forward. It is gratifying to see how the services Law Access provides enables refugees to better navigate the legal system.
Emily Bell: It is very satisfying to know we’ve been able to help Law Access, and through Law Access, asylum seekers who are seeking judicial review of their claims. The work our volunteers do as part of the Clinic is very different to the day to day work at a commercial law firm and it’s interesting to learn about new areas of the law.
- Do you have any tips for other law firms who are considering pro bono secondment arrangements?
For the project to be successful, it’s really important to scope out the project and the responsibilities of each party as clearly and with as much detail as you can from the beginning so that everyone knows what to expect and you can be sure that you can provide the level of commitment required. It’s also important to have regular check ins to see what is or isn’t working and adapt accordingly so that each party is getting the best out of the arrangement.