Queensland has 34 not-for-profit community legal centres dotted across the state.
They have a long, established history of harnessing volunteer support and providing pro bono legal advice and assistance to society’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people and communities.
Volunteering Queensland – the state’s chief non-profit volunteer and community engagement organisation – estimates that as many as 700,000 of the state’s 5.18 million people give freely of their time each year to make an extraordinary impact on the people, communities and environments in which they live.
Many of these are lawyers.
QLS Proctor is featuring some of the many selfless members of the profession who regularly give back to their local communities.
Pravinita ‘Prav’ Singh-Pillay – Principal Lawyer at Cornerstone Law Offices
Tells us about yourself
A migrant success story. I have been a lawyer for 23 years. I am one of the first graduates from Griffith University Law School’s inaugural class of the dual degree program, having come from Fiji as an international student.
My father is a retired Registrar of the High Court of Fiji and a retired magistrate, so respect for the law and the profession runs in my veins. I have worked in the legal industry in Australia and California in the US. I am proud to say I had three solid mentors/employers during my 23-year career, before opening my own firm. I am also an independent children’s lawyer, a nationally accredited mediator and a family dispute resolution practitioner.
What does your role as a volunteer involve?
The role involves giving legal advice in relation to all aspects of family law and domestic violence, and conducting mediations in relation to parenting and financial matters. This is my 10th year in this role with Women’s Legal Service Queensland. I also volunteer at My Community Legal in Robina and at Bayside Community Legal Service as a mediator, and have been on their committee in the past. Prior to COVID-19, I volunteered at YFS Logan.
What motivated you to volunteer?
The importance of giving back to the community; supporting and empowering people with information we take for granted on a daily basis, inspiring and encouraging people and giving hope by constantly keeping people future-focused and being direct with them.
What do you most enjoy about volunteering?
The look on people’s faces and the relief in their voice when you share information which comes as second nature to us, but is a game-changer for them in their moment of despair. I enjoy empowering people and making an actual difference in their lives, particularly children’s, as they are the future of this blessed nation.
By sharing the knowledge and information I have gained over the past 23 years in this profession, I am able to give clients a pathway to stay focused on the future and connect them to services and professionals that can get them to that outcome.
What have you gained – personally or professionally – from volunteering?
To become fearless and selfless by inspiring others, and to be grateful for all I have. I’m constantly reminded that there are many far worse off than myself, and of the importance of giving back to the community that has made me who I am today. I am known as someone that does not mince her words, does not sugar-coat things and doesn’t give false hope.
Do you feel your volunteer work is significant or impactful or rewarding? Why?
Absolutely! If I did not have debts to pay, I would do this on a full-time basis – that is the level of satisfaction I get from my volunteer roles, in the legal and non-legal sectors of volunteer work I do.
For more information about Women’s Legal Service Queensland, visit the website.