Bell Gully is a strong community supporter - sharing time, skills and financial support for the benefit of those in need. One way we do this is through our pro bono programme.
Over many years we have made major pro bono contributions to a wide range of individuals and organisations. In 2009, we formalised our pro bono programme, which is overseen by a committee of six partners and two senior associates. Our objective in formalising the programme was to lead by example, and to encourage other firms to make comparable contributions.
Since then, we have won three awards recognising the impact of our pro bono commitment:
2015 Recognised with a White Camellia Award for Community Leadership and Engagement - promoting equality through community initiatives and advocacy,
2012 Corporate Citizen Firm of the Year, awarded at the ALB Australasian Law Awards in Sydney, and
2010 The Community Service in Law Award, awarded at the New Zealand Law Awards.
As part of our programme, we have established specific criteria to ensure our pro bono work reaches those who need it most, with our focus on enhancing access to justice for those who can't afford to pay for it, and promoting the public interest. Our policy provides structure and processes around how we source, manage and promote pro bono work.
Our pro bono work falls into three categories:
Free, for clients who would otherwise be denied access to justice because they have no means to pay for it.
Free or heavily discounted, for non-government and charitable organisations with funding and other support from third parties.
Free or heavily discounted for limited art, culture, heritage, sports and recreation groups who merit pro bono support.
If you are seeking pro bono assistance for a matter that meets these criteria, please email our pro bono programme manager
Rachel Gowing to make an application.
Our pro bono programme in action
We're nurturing long-term relationships, confident in the knowledge that when we do pro bono work, it's going to very deserving recipients. A selection of our pro bono clients are referred to below.
Community law centres
We have built close relationships with the Auckland Community Law Centre, the Waitematā Community Law Centre and Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley (the CLCs). The CLCs provide essential services to those in the community without the means to pay for legal advice, assisting with a wide range of issues. As a substantial component of our pro bono programme, we:
provide secondee lawyers to each of the Auckland-based CLCs for one day each week,
provide secondee lawyers to the Wellington CLC on a regular basis,
partner senior Bell Gully lawyers as mentors with Auckland centre lawyers,
invite employees to participate in our in-house training sessions and to take advantage of legal research skills training,
offer to take referrals of matters that fall outside the expertise or capacity of the CLCs, and
have built websites for each of the Wellington and the Waitematā centres.
In addition to this, we have logged nearly 750 pro bono hours assisting all 26 of New Zealand's community law centres on two major matters:
negotiations with the Legal Services Agency, securing on-going funding for community law centres nationwide, and
facilitating the establishment of a new national body – Community Law Centres of Aotearoa Incorporated.
We support charitable organisations working in the health sector, including Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand, Arthritis NZ, NZ Aids Foundation and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
Local and global aid organisations
We recently celebrated 125 years of Bell Gully's support of the Salvation Army. Among others, we also support LIFT International and Tear Fund with pro bono legal advice.
We assist various charitable organisations with a focus on youth support and development. These include KidsCan, Make A Wish Foundation and Plunket.
In addition to our relationships with the CLCs referred to above, we also support local community-focused charitable organisations, including Habitat for Humanity and Shine.
We also advise charitable organisations with a cultural focus, including Asia New Zealand Foundation and InZone Education Foundation.