Hai-Van Nguyen

Pro Bono is part of my every day

By Hai-Van Nguyen

Listen to my story. 
02:09 MIN


I’m the daughter of Vietnamese migrants who came to Australia in the late 80s in search of a better future. My parents have always struggled with the English language, so it’s really been my role to help them navigate their way through forms, dealings with government departments and various legal issues.

From a very young age, this experience made me realise that it was likely that there were many more people in a similar position to my parents - people who due to language or other barriers, could not fully access or understand the legal system. I wanted to help those people, the same way I had helped my parents, and that's when it clicked that becoming a lawyer was the thing for me.

I’m now a full-time pro bono lawyer at Clayton Utz. This means that I essentially help to implement the firm's pro bono strategy by coordinating pro bono matters for our lawyers, supervising our pro bono files and working on pro bono cases myself.

The role squarely aligns with my values. I love helping people solve their legal problems - I find it challenging and incredibly rewarding. I’ve seen all too clearly how legal problems can impact on every other aspect of a person's life, including their finances, relationships and importantly their mental health.

Most of the people we help have been damaged in some way, and have been let down by others in the past, so it can take a little while for us to gain their trust. And even when we do gain their trust, clients can be volatile, and their demeanour can change on a daily basis. A large part of my role in the pro bono team is to help our lawyers manage challenges. Working on pro bono matters helps our lawyers develop skills in people management, and these are easily transferable to their commercial work.

I feel incredibly privileged to be part of an organisation that has a vision for pro bono, and a strong one at that. I simply wouldn't be able to do the work I do without my amazing team, and without the support of the Clayton Utz partnership.

Staying true to this commitment to help those less fortunate than us is a fundamental part of Clayton Utz and it's reflected in the passion and enthusiasm our lawyers have for pro bono work.

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