Directory of pro bono organisations outside Australia
Key to the growth of the global pro bono movement has been the development of pro bono referral organisations and referral schemes (also collectively known as clearing houses), and other pro bono organisations. These organisations and schemes now exist in each of Australia’s eight state and territory jurisdictions.
Australia is not alone in the establishment of such Centres. Similar organisations exist in the UK, Canada, the US and around the world as the below directory indicates.
Pro Bono Law Ontario Pro Bono Law Ontario was established in Canada in 2002, and runs volunteer programs that connect pro bono lawyers with low-income Ontarians, either directly or in partnership with local charities.
Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA) PBLA is a not-for-profit charitable organisation that “promotes access to justice in Alberta by creating and promoting opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to persons of limited means”. PBLA was formed in 2007 as a legacy project in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Law Society of Alberta.
Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (PBLS) PBLS is a Canadian non-profit corporation established in 2008 that “strives to improve access to justice in Saskatchewan by creating, facilitating and promoting opportunities for lawyers to provide high-quality pro bono legal services to persons of limited means” where legal aid is not available. PBLS runs a clinic program, a referral program, and provides mentoring and other support to its volunteer lawyers.
Access Pro Bono Law Society of British Columbia Access Pro Bono was formed in 2010. It promotes access to justice in BC, Canada, by providing and fostering pro bono legal services “for people and non-profit organizations of limited means”. It does this through summary legal advice clinics in community centres, social agencies, churches and courthouses located throughout the province, and other projects.
England and Wales
The Bar Pro Bono Unit Established in 1996, The Bar Pro Bono Unit is a charity that acts as a clearing house, connecting barristers in England and Wales who are willing to undertake pro bono work with those who need their help.
LawWorks Founded in 1997, Law Works (the operating name of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group (SPBG)) is a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay legal fees. Law Works also works with the not-for-profit organisations that support its clients.
Pro Bono Institute (PBI) Established in Washington DC in 1996, the Pro Bono Institute provides research, consultative services, analysis and assessment, publications, and training to a broad range of legal professionals. It works to support the pro bono efforts of major law firms, in-house corporate legal departments, and public interest organisations in the US and around the world.
Pro Bono Net Founded in 1999, Pro Bono Net is a US-based non-profit organisation that partners with non-profit legal organisations to increase access to justice for those experiencing poverty. Pro Bono Net supports innovative uses of technology by the non-profit legal sector, increases volunteer participation, and facilitates partnerships between non-legal organisations and legal advocates.
Directory of international pro bono organisations
Along with the clearing houses that exist outside Australia, there are a number of international pro bono organisations specifically dedicated solely to encouraging international pro bono legal work. Details of these organisations are contained in the directory below.
Advocates for International Development (A4ID) A4ID is a UK based global development charity established in 2006 that aims to further the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. A4ID’s work focuses on International Pro Bono, Education and Awareness Raising.
A4ID helps Development Organisations that include local and international NGOs, Inter-Governmental Organisations, social enterprises, bar associations and law societies and developing country Governments. A4ID matches requests for legal advice and assistance with lawyers who are able to assist.
American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is an international development program established in 2007 that “promotes the rule of law by working with in-country partners to build sustainable institutions and societies that deliver justice, foster economic opportunity and ensure respect for human dignity”.
Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF ) Headquartered in Belgium, since 1992 ASF has intervened “in countries where human rights are not respected, where political violence and armed conflict reign, and where legal rules are flouted”. In partnership with local organisations and agencies, ASF works to provide legal aid services, capacity building and advocacy.
Cyrus R Vance Centre for International Justice (NY Bar) The Cyrus R Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar “seeks to expand access to justice in young democracies and developing economies”. It conducts a Global Pro Bono Clearing House and in recent years has focused on projects in Latin America and Africa.
International Bar Association (IBA) Pro Bono IBA Pro Bono is an online resource that “aims to bring together a global community of professionals involved in pro bono legal work on a local and international scale” by providing resources to assist them in carrying out pro bono projects.
International Senior Lawyers Project ISLP aims “to foster just and accountable development, which is sustainable, supportive of human rights, and strengthens the rule of law”. Since incorporating in 2000, and with the support of foundations, law firms, lawyers, and government programs, ISLP has sent lawyers to do pro bono work in more than 50 countries. ILSP has delivered more than $110 million worth of pro bono legal assistance to on-site projects and in the form of remote analysis and advice.
Lawyers without Borders (LWOB) LWOB was founded in 2000 and comprises volunteer lawyers from around the globe who offer pro bono service to worldwide projects and initiatives. LWOB is a portal and clearing house for organisations in search of legal resources as well as a vehicle for addressing human rights issues. Its goal is to use pro bono hours and in-kind support to assist initiatives in the human rights and global capacity building sectors, thereby maximising the effect of donor funding.
Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Established in 2006, the Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation organised under the laws of the District of Columbia, and is an affiliate of Lex Mundi (an association of independent law firms). The Foundation draws upon Lex Mundi’s global network of large business law firms, acts as a broker between appropriately experienced lawyers willing to provide pro bono legal services and social entrepreneurs.
PILnet Established in 1997 as the Public Interest Law Initiative in Transitional Societies (PILI) at Columbia University, New York. PILnet has facilitated pro bono development in Europe through the development of clearing houses in Hungary, Russia and China and conducting an annual European Pro Bono Forum every year since 2007.
TrustLaw Established by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2010 TrustLaw is a broker that aims to bring together legal teams to provide free legal advice for NGOs and social enterprises in any jurisdiction in the world
Events and conferences
With so many unique international pro bono organisations based in such diverse countries, events and conferences are an effective way for these organisations to connect and collaborate with one another. Hosting these functions also contribute in part to the development and growth of the global pro bono movement.