Pro bono contributions continue to rise: Findings from the 2022 National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey

22 Mar 2023

The Australian Pro Bono Centre recently released its 2022 National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey highlighting the state of Australia’s pro bono ecosystem.

At Justice Connect, pro bono is in our DNA. We know that through the contribution of our member firms, we are able to deliver impactful responses to unmet legal need and improve the community’s wellbeing. We are proud to see and support the growth and evolution of pro bono sector, so more people can access justice.

The Australian Pro Bono Centre has conducted their National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey on a biennial basis since 2008. The survey captures responses from Australian firms with 50 or more full-time equivalent lawyers, and through the survey, the centre has been able to build a detailed picture of the pro bono programs of Australia’s largest law firms.

What were the findings?

Pro bono hours delivered by firms through various channels is increasing. At the individual lawyer level, the survey found that pro bono hours have continued to grow from 34.1 hours per FTE lawyer in 2018, to 35.5 hours in 2020, to 36.4 hours in 2022. This increasing contribution by firms and the legal community at-large, allows us to collaboratively plan and deliver interventions that meet pervasive justice gaps, at scale. At Justice Connect, our FY22 Impact Report identified similarly, with a total of 53,219 hours of invaluable pro bono direct legal assistance, up from 51,599 in FY21.

We are proud to note that 72% of respondents to Australian Pro Bono Centre’s recent survey were referred pro bono matters through Justice Connect – the highest proportion of any pro bono referral scheme in the nation. This important work is facilitated via our Pro Bono Portal, where we support member firms to access pro bono opportunities that address areas of unmet legal need and align with their firms’ expertise, experience, and motivations.

The survey also confirmed that Justice Connect’s evidence-based identification of priority help-seeker groups aligns strongly with the strategic engagement of law firms doing pro bono nationally, including:

  • People who are experiencing financial insecurity
  • First Nations help-seekers and communities
  • Not-for-profit organisations
  • First Nations organisations, including Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

Harnessing the power of pro bono

Without the support of our large pro bono network, Justice Connect would be unable to keep up with the rising unmet demand for legal need and progress social justice.

Justice Connect has 55 member firms and a network of over 10,000 pro bono lawyers. Justice Connect’s pro bono network accepts referrals to assist people and community organisations who could otherwise not access appropriate legal assistance, as well as providing lawyers the opportunity to participate in our clinics and other strategic projects. Namely, our members have partnered with us to progress our artificial intelligence (AI) project, self-help resources work, and our online legal clinic Justice Connect Answers (JCA). We are excited by the opportunities of a trending increase in pro bono across Australia, and look forward to continuing to collaborate with our pro bono members to increase access to justice in scaled and sustainable ways.

We are proud to see the sector continue to prioritise pro bono as a key part of their overall culture, strategies, and business, to the life-changing benefit of people and communities across Australia. 

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