The Survey and Other Research

The Centre conducts research on a wide range of aspects of pro bono legal services.

The overarching purpose of the Centre’s research is to advance the understanding and impact of pro bono legal practice, provide practical expertise to drive pro bono support towards the greatest unmet legal need, and to provide an evidence base for advocacy for law and policy reform to advance pro bono legal work.

Key research work that the Centre has already undertaken is below.

Survey and Target

The National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey is a biennial survey of Australian firms with 50 or more full-time equivalent lawyers. The Survey was first conducted in 2008. The most recent Survey Report, using data from the 2022 financial year, was published in February 2023.

The National Pro Bono Target is a voluntary and aspirational target of at least 35 hours of pro bono legal services per lawyer per year. All Target Signatories are required to report on their performance against the Target each financial year.

The Centre then uses this data to produce an annual Performance Report on the Target. This report is de-identified and does not include information on the performance of individual signatories.

Pro Bono Response to Natural Disasters

The Centre’s report, Pro Bono Response to Natural Disasters, describes the disaster response landscape in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. The report synthesises insights from 34 organisations across Australia, including legal aid commissions, community legal centres, referral schemes and law firm pro bono providers into 27 key national recommendations on pro bono best practice in this context.

Justice Project: Pro Bono Tool

Justice Project: Pro Bono Tool. In August 2018, the Law Council released The Justice Project Final Report, a comprehensive national review of the state of access to justice in Australia for people experiencing significant disadvantage, which focuses on thirteen groups. The report contains priorities for each of these thirteen groups that result from an analysis of each group’s relevant legal needs, barriers, service gaps and laws, policies and practices (the Priorities). Building on the Justice Project Final Report, the Centre has started to undertake research for each of these groups in order to map organisations seeking pro bono support who are working towards the Priorities.

Other Research

The Report on the Nature and Prevalence of Pro Bono Partner Roles Globally (2020), produced by law firm DLA Piper alongside the Australian Pro Bono Centre, the Pro Bono Institute in Washington DC and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, reveals a significant increase in the appointment of pro bono partners over the last 20 years.

The Research Roundtable (2018) report: scoping a national research agenda for pro bono legal services that resulted in the creation of the Measuring Impact Hub.

Pro Bono Legal Services in Family Law and Family Violence: Understanding the Limitations and Opportunities (2013) focuses on the nature of pro bono legal work in family law and family violence matters, the reasons for low levels of engagement in family law matters by large and mid-sized firms, and the nature of pro bono legal work in matters where family law and family violence intersect.

In 2020, the Centre appeared before the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System to provide evidence about this research, for more details click here.