New Zealand lawyer Iain Thain has been part of a DLA Piper initiative to help develop the legal knowledge and skills of lawyers from Pacific countries to help them better assist their local communities' access legal help.
Mr Thain, who is an Auckland DLA Piper litigation partner, delivered a week-long seminar at the University of South Pacific in Suva with two other DLA Piper Australian lawyers.
The emphasis of the January course was on both pro bono work and improving access to justice, as well as legal ethics and working with vulnerable clients.
The law students were from Fiji and Tonga. The course enabled them to meet experienced practitioners from different jurisdictions and gave them the chance to discuss social justice issues and practice legal drafting and interviewing skills in an interactive setting.
“There are always gaps in communities' ability to access justice,” says Iain Thain, “and these young people were keen to fill them, to learn more and make effective contributions to their own communities.”
He says it is intended that the Pacific law students will take their enthusiasm for pro bono work back to their local and wider communities and, when they graduate, contribute to a generational shift as they change conservative attitudes in their local firms.