Whether you are a small, mid or large sized firm or practice you can use your expertise to make a valuable pro bono contribution. No matter what stage of development your pro bono practice is at, the Australian Pro Bono Centre can provide you with expert support.
We are happy to speak with you on a confidential basis about your pro bono program, and can help you:
to develop a plan for your pro bono program;
make contacts and build partnerships within the pro bono and legal assistance sector.
If you are interested in speaking with the Centre about any of these issues, please contact us to speak to the Centre’s CEO or other Centre staff.
The Centre also has a large number of practical resources, guides and programs for those looking for information on:
In response to the results of the Centre’s latest National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey, the Centre is currently building a set of Pro Bono Tips, which it is uploading below.
Pro Bono Tip #1
In Australia, the pro bono participation rate within law large firms hasn’t meaningfully changed in 10 years. Here are sometipson how to grow the rate.
For more detail and ideas about growing your participation rate see our Pro Bono Manual.
For more interesting stats about the state of pro bono in Australia, check out our Survey Report.
Establishing or formalising a pro bono practice
If you are interested in establishing a pro bono practice, the Australian Pro Bono Manual is a useful starting point. The Manual is a ‘how to’ and ‘best practice’ guide on establishing and operating a pro bono program within a law firm or practice, answers many frequently asked questions, and contains commentary and useful precedents.
The third edition of the Manual was published in October 2016.
If you are a young lawyer working in the pro bono sector, consider joining Pro Bono Young Folk (ProBo YoFo). ProBo YoFo is organised by Ella Alexander. Read more hereand contact firstname.lastname@example.org you are interested in joining the informal network.
“What Works” also includes detailed case studies that illustrate the benefits, challenges and features of effective projects, and of the different models of providing pro bono legal assistance. The second edition was published in October 2016.
The National Pro Bono Target
In 2007 the Centre established the National Pro Bono Target of 35 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer per year. Both law firms and practices as well as individual solicitors and barristers can become signatories to the Target. The Target is a well-respected and widely adopted benchmark for measuring pro bono contributions in Australia.
If you would like to become a signatory to the National Pro Bono Target please click here.
Many firms find that Pro Bono Referral Schemes and Organisations are the best way to source pro bono matters, and these can be found in every state and territory in Australia. Some are independent organisations working on a membership model, and others are schemes managed by law societies which only require signing up to a list. For more information contact the Pro Bono Referral Scheme or Organisation in your state or territory.
You can also provide information about your pro bono practice on the Centre’s password-protected National Law Firm Directory. The Directory is an interactive guide to the pro bono practices of Australian law firms. An interactive table allows users to find firms by area of law who may be willing to provide pro bono assistance and provides contact details and a profile of that firm.
The Directory can only be accessed by staff from CLCs, Legal Aid, ATSILS, pro bono referral schemes & organisations, other not-for-profit organisations and other firms listed on the Directory.
Pro bono requirements in government tender arrangements
Once you are on one of these Lists and/or Panels you will need to meet certain pro bono requirements, including regular reporting. Further details can be found at Pro Bono requirements in Government Tender Arrangements for Legal Services. You can also find more discussion of pro bono provisions in government tender arrangements, including a comparison of the arrangements put in place by the Commonwealth, Victorian, New South Wales and South Australian Governments here.
If you are providing pro bono legal assistance that involves litigation, your client may be able to obtain Disbursement Assistance by way of:
exemption and waiver of court and tribunal fees; and
disbursement assistance schemes.
You may also be able to obtain expert witness services for free or at low cost via the ExpertsDirect Pro Bono Service, if you are running a matter that is assisting a client experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation.
Floods, bushfires and COVID-19: Pro bono legal support
The legal assistance sector has developed guidance on how pro bono legal professionals can assist those who need legal help resulting from floods, bushfires, and COVID-19. More information can be accessed here.
Pro bono in general
For more information about pro bono, please see the Information about pro bono section of this site. You may be particularly interested in: