Pandemic presents opportunities for pro bono sector

21 Sep 2020

Pro Bono lawyers are finding new ways to connect with clients due to COVID-19 according to the Law School’s new UQ Pro Bono Centre Director Mandy Shircore. 

Ms Shircore, who commenced her new role today, said the community legal centres sector, which provides the majority of pro bono services in Queensland, had been quick to adapt to the challenges such as an increase in demand, urgency and complexity of client matters.

“We are being presented with an opportunity to develop new and innovative ways to deliver pro bono services during government restrictions on travel and physical distancing,” Ms Shircore said.

“The pandemic has meant that pro bono lawyers are being required to adapt to a disrupted justice system to continue providing legal assistance to their clients, wherever they may be located.

“This is one of the areas I would like to focus on in my new role as Director of the Pro Bono Centre, in particular improving access to pro bono services in rural and regional communities.”

Ms Shircore joins UQ from LawRight in Brisbane, where she was a Senior Solicitor in the Health Advocacy Legal Clinic.

She said her interests and passions lie in the community law/pro bono sector, which is what attracted her to the position.

“The UQ Pro Bono Centre has a reputation as a leader in the provision of student pro bono legal services. I hope to build on that reputation through new and existing partnerships and opportunities for students,” she said.

“I am excited to work with students who often start their law degrees with an ideal of justice and helping people, and continue the Centre’s work in providing such a wide range of enriching and valuable pro bono experiences for students.

“I have spent the last 18 months working with UQ law and social work students in a health justice legal clinic, and I have been inspired by their passion and commitment to improving access to justice.”

Until the beginning of 2020, Ms Shircore was an associate professor at the Law School at James Cook University, where she served as Head of School for a couple of years and has also been an Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching.

She has a substantial body of publications, mainly on aspects of health law and negligence, and has extensive experience in professional practice.  

She has held management and board positions within the community legal sector throughout her career as well as working with Legal Aid and in private practice across two states.