The NCYLC 'Cyber Project' is a national partnership between King & Wood Mallesons ("KWM") and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre ("NCYLC"). It is the only initiative currently providing free legal and practical problem-solving services for Australian children, young people under 25 and advocates – offering a unique opportunity for Australian youths to ask legal questions through a confidential free online platform.
Operating since 2007, the Cyber Project is one of KWM's largest pro bono clinics involving 215 KWM employees from across Australia, along with lawyers from three commercial clients.
Participants volunteer to provide legal advice via email ("LawMails") in response to questions from children and young people, and in 2017 alone over 1,000 responses were prepared.
Find out more about the Cyber Project in the video below, in which our Pro Bono & Community Impact team discusses:
- What the NCYLC 'Cyber Project' is and the role KWM plays
- Why providing free and accessible online services to young people is so important
- The role law firms and lawyers play in improving access to justice in the community
What is the NCYLC 'Cyber Project' and what role does KWM play?
Dan Creasey: The cyber project is a partnership that has existed between King & Wood Mallesons and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre since 2007. The project involves around 215 KWM employees volunteering their time to respond, via email, to requests for assistance by children and young people right across Australia. So we provide the legal advice via email.
The project involves KWM employees working with and alongside lawyers from three of our commercial clients, therefore to boost capacity for the project. The cyber project operates remotely thereby enabling our volunteers to reach a large number of children and young people and respond to a large number of requests right across Australia - not just from children and young people that are living in capital cities.
Why is providing a free and accessible online service to youths so important?
Ramlah Fakhri: The NCYLC project is the only national cyber law project dedicated to helping youth and young people in Australia, and so I think the NCYLC project is a really important way for children and young people to know their legal rights and be able to enforce them. The kind of questions we're dealing with are sometimes things that even adults wouldn't be able to know how to solve.
What kind of impact can young lawyers make through pro bono legal work?
Shirlin Wu: I think it's interesting to see the impact young lawyers can actually make through their work. We're never going to know the answer off the top of our heads, particularly in relation to the NCYLC program which isn't our area of expertise, but we do have the skills and abilities to find the information we need and I think we sometimes forget how valuable that skill is and then when you're able to distil what's quite often complex information, options and consequences in a format and in a language that young people and children can then digest, we are able to make what can sometimes be quite a confronting situation more manageable for them.
What role can law firms/lawyers play in giving back to the broader community?
Ramlah Fakhri: The NCYLC project has been a great example of how young lawyers and any lawyers actually can get together and do something really beneficial for the community. I think it's great to see how much satisfaction the lawyers that participate in our program get out of it.
Shirlin Wu: So we partner with corporations like Telstra, as well as government agencies like ASIC, and it's great to see lawyers from such a wide range of organisations be so willing to commit time and effort into the program, talking with the volunteers and certainly my personal experience in KWM more generally, the organisations and the volunteers themselves really do see their contribution as a necessary part of their role as a member of profession as opposed to merely 'tick the box' exercise because we've committed to X number of hours, pro bono hours for each lawyer.