Common metrics used for measuring success across organisations now include public service factors drawn from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values. However, so much of the work we do in the e-discovery field, day after day, can present exhausting challenges and intimidating deadlines. It’s not easy to find the time and energy to devote to yet another project—but finding something that inspires passion could be just the boost you need.
In fact, an important discussion piece at this year's Spotlight: ANZ was the sense of purpose in the work we do in our communities, following our “Making a Difference in the Law and in Your Career Through Service” session. We met with speakers who have taken different journeys in their careers to make a difference through service. Our speakers provided insights into the diverse range of opportunities within each workforce—but each shared the same sense of purpose.
Why You’re Needed in Your Community
There is evidence of an increase in pro bono work in the last few years, particularly noticeable since the start of the pandemic. We heard from Australian Pro Bono Centre CEO Gabriela Christian-Hare, that the reasons for growth include setting national pro bono targets with support from the government, recognition of business cases for pro bono, and events like the pandemic and natural disasters driving the need.
Gabriela's career journey includes her transition from commercial lawyer to the CEO of the Australian Pro Bono Centre. We also heard Cassandra Evans, senior associate at Phi Finney McDonald, talk to our audience on how her role working in law firms has evolved—and how she now works mostly on pro bono matters.
Anyone with a legal background can relate to wanting to be an inspiration for lawyers making a difference in the law. Often, reality takes us down a more commercial path with vastly different measures of success—defined by billable hours and career advancement. Indeed, there has always been non-profit, low-profit, or pro bono legal work to be done—and many of the Australian law firms and service providers supporting this type of work also have access to leading e-discovery software, such as RelativityOne, to help make that work more efficient and impactful.
Since its inception, the mission of Relativity’s social impact programming has been to empower the Relativity community to access the resources and technology necessary to foster a more equitable society. We are humbled to see just how passionately the community is pursuing those same goals.
During the Spotlight: ANZ panel, we also heard from Kathleen Lieuw-Kie-Song-Drown, senior director of the e-discovery consultancy Law in Order, who spoke on the value of partnerships and supporting RelativityOne as a hosting partner on our Justice for Change program.
There are many ways we can make a positive impact in the communities we live and work. If you are looking to get started, consider these five ways to get involved.
#1: Join the Justice for Change Program
Justice for Change pledges 100 terabytes of space in RelativityOne, and expertise from our community, to those fighting for racial and social justice initiatives around the world. It empowers the e-discovery community to tackle the most critical issues by providing technology to the organisations fighting for justice. Outside of the traditional legal fees associated with pro bono matters, technology can be one of the largest drivers of barrier to access. We want to help break that down.
When the Justice for Change program was introduced in Australia, it immediately picked up traction and pro bono matters in the program tripled within a year. They’re now set to double within the next six months. As the program has grown in region, we have seen many of our customers get involved, supporting multiple non-profit organisations, providing their expertise, and committing to providing e-discovery capabilities, efficient use of AI, and project management support to those on the front lines of social and racial justice case work.
We’re also having conversations with non-profits on the nature of support they can receive. Our goal as a software provider is to help increase awareness and provide software access to organisations who might not know about RelativityOne or be able to afford this kind of technology in-house.
There’s also a huge opportunity for our customers and partners to get involved. Law firms and service providers have supported cases such as the Torres Strait Islanders fighting for climate justice, a challenge to net zero carbon emissions claims filed by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, and the duty of care case supported by Law In Order and the National Justice Project. These are just a few examples of how the Justice for Change program has steadily grown.
#2: Organise Charitable Grants
Can you nominate an organisation for funding as a one-off or a continued partnership with your organisation or network?
We believe that no one knows the community like the community. Through Relativity’s grant program, annual funds are available to empower Relativians in our Community Resource Groups, our global regions, and our Relativity Fellows Alumni Network to increase support in the communities they care about most. Two organisations nominated to date in APAC include:
- Ardoch, a children's education charity. In November 2021, Relativity joined a broad range of corporate partners supporting Ardoch in their efforts to deliver more educational support programs for children in disadvantaged communities across Australia. This grant was provided so that Ardoch could ensure that schools in Melbourne’s South East, specifically those in communities facing disadvantage, could access Ardoch’s STEM Robotics program. The partnership continues to date, with more schools set to receive STEM kits this year.
“With Ardoch and Relativity's support, our students have been able to develop real-world STEM skills using drones to explore mapping and coding through emergency response problem-solving. The access to the high quality resources and from SheMaps has also been invaluable for our teachers.”
– Nigel Wilcock, STEM Leader, Dandenong Primary School
- The Australian Wildlife Conservancy, for the work they do with Indigenous groups across the continent. The AWC builds relationships with Traditional Custodians and develops a shared vision for the Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust, which covers 338,000 hectares on the eastern edge of the Great Sandy Desert bioregion in the Northern Territory. AWC also operates a tech program, developed with support from Microsoft, that uses AI and image recognition to automate camera trap image processing and identify threatened species and feral predators.
Many organisations also have employee resource groups who support causes with shared missions; it is worth exploring what opportunities are offered by yours. Consider joining one to forge a sense of community with your team, as well as find opportunities to advocate for those missions.
#3: Share Personal Time and/or Resources
There are often opportunities to donate your own time, money, or goods to non-profit organisations in your area. For example, you can support disadvantaged groups through programs supporting employability. Donate career readiness attire, help build a resume, or train someone on the use of technology to help them enter the workforce or become more employable. You can also hire new talent from an organisation dedicated to upskilling individuals with less access to traditional career and education tracks.
Generation Australia’s mission is to help build careers for people who are unemployed, underemployed, or need to upskill or cross-skill through education-to-employment programs. You can partner with them to hire graduates from one of their programs, and if you do not see a program for the profession you need to hire, you can reach out to start a conversation on the potential to start a new program with them. Fitted for Work is a similar job-readiness service for women.
At Relativity, our giving platform for tracking and matching employees’ charitable donations and volunteer hours, Benevity, has been embraced by our local Relativians and user community. Our Melbourne and Sydney teams volunteer their time to support organisations in their communities, with the Sydney team recently heading to Our Big Kitchen to prepare meals for the disadvantaged while our Melbourne colleagues went out on the water to collect rubbish from the Yarra River (with guidance from the Yarra Riverkeeper Association).
You can also get involved in your organisation’s and local non-profits’ fundraiser events. Share these causes on social media, on personal and professional sites, and with your network to encourage others to donate and start a conversation on why they matter to you.
Additionally, our 2022 end-of-year user group included the distribution of Benevity gift cards to our attendees and gave us a glimpse into the organisations our community cares about. One gift card was valued at $500AUD and donated to McAuley Community Services for Women, a local charity that offers programs and services to support women and children who have faced family violence and homelessness. The lucky recipient of this voucher was Greg Astegno of iCourts, who said: “the vouchers were a brilliant idea and a charitable sentiment for the season.”
At Spotlight: ANZ, we implemented a similar concept by providing tokens to attendees, allowing them to vote for one of three nominated organizations to receive donations. Nominees were: the National Justice Project, a justice-focused program in collaboration with one of our partner non-profit organizations; the New Zealand Red Cross, which focuses on disaster relief and recovery in response to recent events; and One Generation Australia, which has a technology and education focus. The funds were subsequently distributed to each organization in accordance with their corresponding votes through Benevity.
Exercises like these—speaking up, nominating organisations, sharing upcoming challenges with colleagues and friends—takes simple donations to the next level of involvement. We are excited to see how this has become part of the culture in our region.
Take a moment today to find a cause you are passionate about, if you do not already have one in mind. Research it, and see how you can contribute your time, funds, and enthusiasm to support its mission and spread the word with your loved ones.
The Relativity Gives Portal, powered by Benevity, is where Relativians around the globe get connected with volunteer opportunities. If you have a worthy cause you would like to share with us, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#4: Pursue Cultural Competence
It is essential to educate yourself on diverse cultural practices and worldviews, and the easiest place to start is understanding the cultural issues within your own region.
What does cultural competence mean for us in Australia? There is a wealth of information on the inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A personal goal could be to make a commitment to learn more about at least one aspect of this issue. For example, consider these options:
- Do you have a commitment or a target to hire a certain number of employees with diverse backgrounds, and offer training and support to empower their success?
- Do you have policies in place to ensure employment ads are also reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to further diversify the people you work with?
- Could you invite a speaker to your organisation to help educate a wider team on these topics and discuss ways to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
- Can you offer presentations on specific issues for discussion in a group, and highlight ways your organisation or employees can get involved? By way of example:
- “Do we understand the Australian Climate Class Action case and the risk of seeing the first climate change refugees from the Torres Strait Islands? Do we know the scope of the case, or what is involved in the campaign?”
- “How much do we know about Closing the Gap initiatives of the Australian government, and are there ways we can get involved? These programs are aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community, with 17 socioeconomic targets identified. One key target is access to justice. How can we help?”
Sit down with your team to consider all these ideas—and any others you can contribute to the list!—and then determine what small steps you can take to start implementing the ones that stand out most.
#5: Leverage Technology and Innovation
As a society, we are faced with the challenge of managing large volumes of information and confronting all the misinformation available therein. Technologists have resources at their disposal to tackle these issues and build efficiencies in accessing the right information. We have already had one case in the Australian courts consider whether AI can be an inventor of patents, raising questions on ownership and the protection of AI-derived inventions. Although the long answer was “no, AI cannot be an inventor,” this only started the conversation in the legal industry, while tools like ChatGPT have opened new ways of accessing and processing information.
One thing our community does well is innovate. There is an opportunity to blend innovation and existing technology to serve disadvantaged communities differently. If you are a solutions-focused group, consider hosting a hackathon with a charitable mission. You may be impressed by what your team can produce, if given the space to put their skills to work in this way.
“Although the hackathon experience is quite exhausting at the time, it is also very energising. Every person involved in a hackathon is someone who is not satisfied with the status quo—so you are around creative people who have a lot of energy to change and improve things.”
– Matthew Golab, director of legal informatics and R+D at Gilbert and Tobin (and a 2023 AI Visionary), on his experience participating in hackathons in various capacities.
When it comes to the work we can do in our communities in service of a sense of purpose, the opportunities are endless. You can find out more about Relativity’s Social Impact work here. If you would like to partner with us on our social impact efforts, please email email@example.com.
Graphics for this article were created by Kael Rose.