Pro Bono Portal representing Australia at the 2021 World Summit Awards

4 Nov 2021

Our multi award-winning in-house developed Pro Bono Portal has been nominated to represent Australia in the Government & Citizen Engagement category at the World Summit Awards.

Every year 5 billion people around the world face unmet legal need. And a lack of coordination, visibility into legal need and capacity, and under-utilised resources in the pro bono ecosystem constrain the impact of pro bono contributions in assisting those who need it most.

Using innovative technology, our Pro Bono Portal presents huge opportunities to make the most of pro bono capacity, and connecting lawyers more efficiently, transparently and effectively with unmet legal need.

2021 World Summit Awards (WSA)

The WSA was initiated in 2003 in the framework of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (UN WSIS) held in Geneva to find and recognise the best and most innovative start-ups and creative solutions to benefit communities.

WSA Australia nominates the 8 best Australian Digital Innovation applications with positive social impact to represent the country at the World Summit Award Global Congress in March 2022. We will be contending alongside highly competitive representatives from over 180 UN member countries on our applications’ ability to make positive Local and Social Impact in response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Using human-centred design to match unresolved legal problems with our network of 10,000 pro bono lawyers

Mockup of Justice Connect's Pro Bono Portal

After 3 years of design research and product development through our award-winning Gateway Project, Justice Connect’s Pro Bono Portal was launched in Australia in August 2019.

To ensure the Portal meets the needs of its users, stakeholders were involved at every step of the design and development process. Using algorithmic matching, the Portal matches opportunities submitted by legal service organisations with the best-fitting law firm. Opportunities can include help-seekers needing specific assistance, fact sheets, research projects and even campaigns. Lawyers can also browse open matters to pick up in their own time.

With over 160 law firms on the platform, the Portal has enabled us to increase the number of cases placed with pro bono by 50%.

“This is changing how we work in a good way – we’re rethinking our practice.”

Australian pro bono coordinator and Portal user

Our Pro Bono Portal has gone global

The 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires and global COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for technology that better connects pro bono resources with community legal centres. Adapting and distributing our online tools internationally was a natural extension of our work and theory of change.

We are working with global organisations to share our technology and adapt the Portal to meet various place-based requirements in jurisdictions around the world. Justice Connect’s years of expertise, research, and co-design have given us a strong foundation to customise the Portal to address the diversity of challenges faced by different clearinghouses and their jurisdictions. We’ve been adapting the platform so that it’s completely configurable to suit different legal systems, and can be installed and run independently by local legal services organisations.

After receiving wide interest from overseas and running extensive research to better understand the challenges and opportunities in different jurisdictions, we launched the platform in the United Kingdom (through our local partner LawWorks), Ireland (Public Interest Law Alliance or PILA) and New Zealand (Te Ara Ture). We anticipate to roll out the Portal in more jurisdictions in 2021 and 2022.

“We strongly support this thoughtful, design-led approach to harnessing technology so that we can better match unmet legal need with pro bono resources.”

Global Head of Pro Bono and Portal user

The Portal is fast becoming a sector-wide all-purpose platform. We are continually developing new features and responding to feedback collected from each deployment. We are also planning to launch in more countries, develop language adaptability for non-English jurisdictions, and provide access to more legal service organisations in Australia.

The scalability, security and adaptability of the Portal presents a huge opportunity to support the global pro bono ecosystem, frontline organisations, and most importantly, increase access to justice.


  • 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Award (For Purpose) – for Kate Fazio’s (Head of Innovation and Engagement) delivery of innovative, high-impact responses to unmet legal need
  • 2020 HESTA Excellence Award, Outstanding Community Services Organisation – for our disaster response and digital innovation
  • 2019 Gold Good Design Award, Social Impact – for application of design principles
  • 2019 Victorian Premier’s Design Award, Best Service Design – for dedication to closing the justice gap, and using iterative design methodology
  • 2019 Australian Not-for-profit Technology Awards – Accidental IT person of the year – for Kate Fazio’s initiative in legal innovation.
Find out more

The Pro Bono Portal was developed as part of Justice Connect’s Gateway Project with seed funding from Google. We are grateful to Herbert Smith Freehills, DLA Piper, PILnet, Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), and LawWorks for their generous support.