The Centre has also produced Guidance Notes (below) specifically for those undertaking annual reporting on their performance against the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target. These provide more information and answer many frequently asked questions.
Only work that involves the delivery of pro bono legal servicesas defined for the purposes of the Target should be reported.
Many firms have Community Service and Corporate Social Responsibility programs under which their lawyers and non-lawyers provide a broad range of community service work. Examples of this include literacy and mentoring work, and volunteering to provide services at community organisations. These programs may also involve the firm donating to charities. These activities do not fall within the definition of “pro bono legal services” and should not be reported.
Signatories should calculate the number of FTE lawyers for the year by using the average of the number of FTE lawyers at the first day and the last day of the reporting financial year.1
(FTE lawyers at 1 July + FTE lawyers at 30 June) ÷ 2
“Firm’s lawyers”2 includes law graduates not yet admitted to legal practice and thus their pro bono hours should be reported. It does not include paralegals, and their hours should not be reported as pro bono hours.
Signatories have the option of separately reporting paralegal hours where the work performed is of a legal nature and would otherwise be charged to the client if it were a commercial matter.
Time recorded for the purpose of delivering pro bono legal services should be treated in the same way that work performed for commercial clients is treated. In this respect, each signatory firm’s policies for the treatment of travel time should apply to their pro bono legal work.
Each signatory should have systems in place to ensure that accurate records are kept of the pro bono legal work performed.
Pro bono legal services may include international pro bono legal services,3 that is pro bono legal work undertaken:
outside Australia, by lawyers who are supervised by, or provided from, an office based in Australia
for clients based outside Australia, by lawyers based in Australia; or
for organisations based in Australia where the work concerns an initiative outside Australia.
N.B. In July each year the Centre will send to each signatory an email attaching a standard form which is to be completed and returned to the Centre.
The Centre aims to publish, within 3 months of the end of each year, under the categories of law firm, solicitor and barrister, the number of signatories and the percentage that have met the Target in the previous year within each category. The Centre does NOT publish the names of those signatories that have met or not met the Target.
Law Firm Signatories which have not achieved the Target during the year will be invited to discuss confidentially with the Centre their plans for how they will work to meet the Target in future.
1 Where a new Target firm is reporting for a period less than a full financial year, the number of FTE lawyers should be calculated by using the average number of FTE lawyers at the first day and the last day of the reporting period.
2 For the purposes of these Guidance Notes, “firm’s lawyers” refers to lawyers and law graduates at a law firm or at an incorporated legal practice, as appropriate.
3 In this context references to “community” in the definition of “pro bono legal services” include communities outside of Australia.