Every two years the Centre surveys all Australian law firms with fifty or more lawyers for the National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey. The Centre then produces a Survey Report, unique internationally for its depth (previous reports can be found on our Survey page). Work on the fifth Survey is now underway, with a Report due to be produced later this year. We hope that this will again provide a comprehensive snapshot of large law firm pro bono in Australia.
The Survey, first conducted in 2008, helps the Centre to identify trends over time, illuminate current issues in the sector, produce publications and choose where to focus its limited resources. The Survey Report is a useful resource for law firms, particularly those with developing programs, to understand common practice and benchmark themselves accordingly. It is also referred to widely in the broader access to justice sector, both locally and internationally, and by government.
The last Survey, in 2014, was completed by 41 law firms, including 24 of the 25 largest law firms in Australia. Responses to the Survey helped the Centre to report on a number of significant trends in the 116-page 2014 Report, including
- the falling number of firms that were providing full billable hour credit for lawyers that undertake pro bono work on behalf of their firm,
- the balance between providing pro bono assistance to organisations and to individuals, and
- the increase in pro bono hours undertaken, coupled with a decrease in participation by lawyers at those same firms, indicating that a smaller number of lawyers were doing more pro bono work (particularly through secondments).
Data from the 2014 Survey Report was reported in the media and utilised by many law firms, local and international pro bono referral organisations and others working in the social justice sector, particularly in submissions to government and the Productivity Commission Inquiry in to Access to Justice Arrangements. It helped not only to celebrate the highlights of pro bono but also to illuminate the difficulties that large law firms faced.
After consultation with law firm pro bono coordinators the Centre produced the 2016 Survey, which was sent to all Australian law firms with fifty or more lawyers on 18 July. The due date for completion was 8 August – if you are responsible for coordinating pro bono at a large law firm and have not yet completed the Survey please contact Daniel Jacobs via firstname.lastname@example.org or on 02 9385 7381. You can complete the Survey anonymously if you wish, and all information is kept strictly confidential and de-identified in the Report.
Reporting on the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target was also due 8 August, and needs to be completed by Target Signatories in order to remain on the Target Register. If you have not yet reported please contact us.