The fourth edition of The Australian Pro Bono Manual: A practice guide and resource kit for law firms is the latest in a series that has been published over 20 years. It is designed as a practical ‘how to’ guide for establishing and developing a law firm pro bono program.
The first edition of the Manual (published in 2003) was the result of a recommendation of the National Pro Bono Task Force in 2001 to develop a best practice handbook that would provide detailed practical advice to law firms and legal practitioners on topics ranging from promoting a pro bono culture to risk management. As the last 20 years have demonstrated, well-structured law firm pro bono programs can make a significant contribution to addressing unmet legal need and facilitating access to justice.
The Manual is primarily directed to firms that either do not have, or are in the process of establishing or developing, a pro bono program. Some of the resources will also be of use to firms and individuals as a best practice reference. Cross-referencing is used to identify other relevant chapters in the Manual and its companion publication, Pro Bono Partnerships and models: A Practical Guide to What Works.
- Part 1 of the Manual outlines the issues that firms and pro bono coordinators should consider when planning, developing and maintaining a program: for example, policy issues to consider, different models of pro bono legal work and how to identify needs and sources of work.
- Part 2 addresses the procedural and practice issues that firms and pro bono coordinators should consider in relation to the management and delivery of pro bono legal services, such as casework procedures and risk management.
- Part 3 gives information about the key organisations in the Australian legal assistance sector and their relevance to a law firm’s developing pro bono practice.
- Part 4 addresses frequently asked questions about developing a pro bono legal practice.
- Appendix 1 provides a number of precedents that firms can adapt to suit their own requirements and use in the development of their own pro bono practice.
- Appendix 2 contains the Australian Pro Bono Centre’s Best Practice Guide, which sets out the standards to which a firm’s pro bono program should aspire.
For the first time, the Manual is available solely online. This will allow for more frequent updating as necessary. The Australian Pro Bono Centre welcomes comments, suggestions and contributions from pro bono practitioners and the broader legal community.