Pro Bono Partner Views: Martin Wiseman

Pro Bono Update

Describe your pro bono practice and experience.

Starship Child Health is New Zealand’s national children’s hospital. It was formed in 1992 with the child friendly name Starship. It is a research and training and quaternary care hospital with a global reputation. At the same time as the hospital was formed the Starship Foundation charity was formed in 1992 to raise funds for the hospital from corporate sponsorships, donations from individuals, grants from other philanthropic organisations and from bequests and legacies. DLA Piper New Zealand has acted pro bono for the Foundation since 1992 and I have been the client relationship partner. I have also been a trustee of the Foundation for four years and am presently chair of the Foundation. The Foundation is considered by some to be New Zealand’s best known and most highly regarded charity because of the fantastic work done in the hospital by the clinical staff.

What pro bono experience has been the most meaningful to you and why?

Virtually everyone in New Zealand has had a personal or family experience at Starship Child Health. So the best part is our lawyers get to give back to the hospital and to the fantastic team who work there.

What skills have you learned from your pro bono work that have been invaluable in your professional development?

For me personally, I have been exposed to hugely talented clinical staff who work and choose to stay in New Zealand for the greater good of our kids and country. They could earn much more at say Great Ormond Street Hospital in London but, in part because of the funds raised by the Foundation, they get to have research and innovation funded, they get to study overseas, they get the best equipment and they choose to stay in NZ and produce the best possible health outcomes for NZ children. For me it’s opened my eyes to pursuing higher goals and not chasing money for money’s sake and material things.

How is pro bono important to our firm's culture and values?

People who work in a firm like ours are in a privileged environment. They have a duty to give back. Providing pro bono legal support is part of providing access to justice and upholding the rule of law for those who might otherwise miss out on their fundamental rights. It goes to the core of what it is to be a lawyer.

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