Thomas More Law School Pro Bono Program

There’s more to learning than what goes on in the classroom. That’s why the pro bono program lies at the heart of the Thomas More Law School.

Pro bono service

Thomas Law School Pro Bono Program

Pro bono service (from the latin, ‘pro bono publico’ meaning ‘for the public good’) means giving legal assistance for free or at a substantially reduced fee. The national Pro Bono Aspirational Target Statement of Principles says this service applies to:

  • individuals who can demonstrate a need for legal assistance but cannot obtain Legal Aid or otherwise access the legal system without incurring significant financial hardship; 
  • individuals or organisations whose matter raises an issue of public interest which would not otherwise be pursued;
  • charities or other non-profit organisations which work on behalf of low income or disadvantaged members of the community or for the public good.

Through our pro bono program, Thomas More Law School students have delivered more than 20,000 hours of pro bono service.

Real world experience

Thomas Law School Pro Bono Program

Our pro bono program provides you with an exceptional opportunity to work with lawyers and clients in private practice, in the community, and in government,  experiencing  the operation of the law and ethics in a practice setting.

You’ll work with real clients and real cases to develop  legal solutions that support  the dignity and well-being of people and communities.

Participating in pro bono service will enable you to contribute positively to the community, achieve great personal satisfaction, gain front line legal experience, and extend your legal knowledge and skills.

Our partners

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Thomas More Law School students have completed their pro bono placements with organisations such as:

  • Reprieve Australia
  • Salvos Legal Humanitarian
  • Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)
  • Edmund Rice International
  • Magistrates Court of Victoria
  • Australian Parliament
  • Kimberley Land Council
  • Victoria Legal Aid
  • Australian Dispute Resolution Association
  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
  • Tenants Union of NSW
  • Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre Inc (RILC)
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet (Victoria)
  • Toongabbie Legal Centre
  • Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
  • Department Premier and Cabinet Internship (Vic)
  • EnergySafe Victoria
  • Justice Connect
  • JobWatch
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • Victoria Police
  • Oxfam
  • WorkSafe
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia
  • Various community legal centres throughout Victoria, New South Wales and in other states and territories
  • Pro bono divisions of large city law firms

Refugee Law Project

Our pro bono program in Sydney gives students the opportunity to assist asylum seekers in matters before the Federal Circuit Court.

The Refugee Law Project is a ground-breaking pro bono program offering support to asylum seekers who are involved in the court process. For most, English is their second language and many are unfamiliar with the Australian legal system.

By working with asylum seekers students not only gain exceptional hands-on legal experience, they are also exposed to the real world challenges faced  by many people.

Frances Coyne

Making a real difference

Bachelor of Law/Global Studies graduate Frances Coyne joined the Refugee Law Project as part of her studies. She took on the deportation case against a Bangladeshi man and her actions secured a major court win for the asylum seeker, giving hope to him and to thousands of other people in a similar situation.

“This is a big win. Frances took it on with no experience other than the Refugee Law Project and was able to identify a legal precedent that ensured we won the case,” project founder and Sydney barrister Victor Kline said.

Frances recalls as follows: “You meet these people, hear their stories and many of them are quite sad….So, to be involved in a favourable outcome for the client is great for the soul.”

Mr Kline said: “This isn’t filing, this is going into court, meeting clients, analysing documents, corresponding with the Minister’s solicitors and making recommendations to one of our team of pro bono barristers….For someone like Frances, meeting refugees and offering a service that makes them feel comfortable and restores trust gives everyone hope that we can achieve something.”

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“ACU supported me in a diverse range of pro bono placements as well as providing me with the skills required to gain a clerkship. Most memorably, ACU gave me the opportunities to travel the world. Not only have I gained the personal and professional experiences needed to excel in a legal career I’ve made unforgettable memories which have been incredibly rewarding.”
Mardi Grivas
Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of Global Studies
Gazi Abbas
Sydney law student Gazi Abbas spent his pro bono time with Legal Aid NSW and said it was "...by far the best part of my studies. My pro bono experience added a practical element to my studies and it was a privilege that students don’t get at other law schools."
Gazi Abbas
Bachelor of Laws

Recognition of pro bono

In Australia, many law firms have established innovative pro bono programs which contribute support to disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Commonwealth, state and territory governments include pro bono requirements when publicising legal services tenders to law firms.

Pro bono service is recognised for the purpose of pre-admission Practical Legal Training requirements.

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When

From your second year of study.

Internship commitment

You volunteer for 160 hours.

Credit points

This unit is worth 10 credit points.

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