Celebrating the power of pro bono this Pro Bono Day

17 May 2022

Today, on Pro Bono Day, we are celebrating the enormous contributions of pro bono lawyers across Australia. Much of Justice Connect’s work and impact towards increasing access to legal support and progressing social justice would not be possible without pro bono lawyers.

Justice Connect has 52 member firms and a network of over 10,000 pro bono lawyers. We also work with a broader group of 170 law firms in our disaster response coordination.

In the last financial year, pro bono lawyers delivered 51,054 hours of pro bono legal assistance through our programs, valued at $20,421,600. We have also assisted other organisations to better access pro bono through our Pro Bono Portal projects in Australia and globally.

At Justice Connect, we’re focused on ensuring that the impact of pro bono hours is understood and maximised, and we’re looking for new ways to deploy pro bono effort.

Our artificial intelligence (AI) project represents one of our most exciting new approaches to working with pro bono.

In partnership with the University of Melbourne, we have delivered, and continue to iterate, a natural language processing artificial intelligence model that can diagnose legal problems from everyday language. We have already integrated the AI into our online intake process and it is delivering impressive results. This work can only happen with the assistance of our pro bono network.

Over the last 18 months, we have worked closely with pro bono lawyers from our member firms to carefully annotate thousands of language samples. We created a game, TAG (Training AI Game), that assists lawyers to quickly and easily apply a range of annotations to de-identified descriptions of legal problems drafted by people who’ve experienced legal problems. These annotated language samples were then used by our partners at the University of Melbourne School of Computing Science to train our AI model.

So far, 310 pro bono lawyers have participated. They have annotated 9,950 language samples, with 38,000 category annotations and 99,082 highlights of corresponding language.

This extraordinary contribution has assisted us to deliver a working model with over 85% accuracy across 11 legal categories (with work continuing on further categories).

9,950 language samples

Collected through our own data sources and via partners, and added to the TAG game

310 lawyers

Applying annotations to de-identified language samples.

38,000 annotations

99,082 highlights

Each sample is annotated by 5 different lawyers – 9,950 samples have been annotated 38,000 times. Our 310 lawyers have applied 99,082 text highlights, indicating where text can be educative to the model. 

With thanks to our participating law firms:

Allens Linklaters Minter Ellison Clayton Utz Norton Rose Fulbright
Herbert Smith Freehills Corrs Chambers Westgarth King & Wood Mallesons DLA Piper

On Pro Bono Day, we thank our member firms for their ongoing support of Justice Connect, and their commitment to addressing the unacceptably wide justice gap in Australia and beyond.

Read more about our AI project