30 COMMUNITY | LEGAL SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHT 2018 PRO BONO PROGRAMS The Australian legal profession has a strong commitment to providing legal assistance to those who do not have adequate access to justice, a service that lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide. Pro bono assistance is provided in a range of practice areas, including employment law, commercial agreements, immigration, governance and deductible gift recipient status (DGRS) processes, and to a variety of client groups. The role of pro bono legal work in Australia has become increasingly visible both within the legal profession and the community as many law firms develop increasingly structured pro bono programs. Through those programs, lawyers are supported and encouraged to undertake pro bono legal work for socially disadvantaged and marginalised persons and the organisations that support them. While individual ethical and professional responsibility provides the foundation for legal pro bono in the legal profession, law firms are increasingly providing resources to help support, organise and leverage pro bono services as a core part of their community engagement or corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. In many cases the focus of their practice integrates well with elements of their CSR strategies including philanthropy, non-legal volunteering, diversity and inclusion programs, and indigenous reconciliation programs. AusLSA and the Australian Pro Bono Centre (Centre) have collaborated since 2015 assisting AusLSA to incorporate pro bono program information into its Sustainability Framework. AusLSA members began providing information about their pro bono strategy and management in the 2016 report. Members report on the structures and management of their programs and whether they are signatories to the voluntary National Pro Bono Target (Target). The Target is a benchmark of pro bono performance, with signatories agreeing to use their best efforts to provide at least 35 hours of pro bono legal services per lawyer per year. In the years between launch of the Target in 2007 and its ten-year anniversary in 2017, the number of signatories to the Target increased from 58, covering 3,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) lawyers, to 138, covering 11,000 FTE lawyers collectively conducting 420,195 hours of pro bono legal work and averaging 35.7 pro bono hours per lawyer in FY2017. The 11th Annual Performance Report of the Target indicates that in FY2018 signatories averaged 34.97 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer and performed 414,843 hours of pro bono legal services, 1.28% less than the 420,195 hours reported in FY2017. Although results are slightly down in FY2018, the process efficiencies involved and client outcomes achieved through this work continue to be impressive. In July 2018 the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target was renamed to the National Pro Bono Target. While the Target will remain at 35 hours per lawyer per year and be voluntary, the definition of ‘pro bono legal services’ will now include work for social enterprises under certain circumstances. The Centre has also released new guidance notes and reporting requirements in relation to substantially reduced fee pro bono work. A full overview of changes to the Target can be found in the Centre’s report, National Pro Bono Aspirational Target – The Target at Ten Years – Final Report – June 2018 FORMAL STRATEGY MANAGEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITY 97% 3% Yes Currently in Development STRATEGY 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Partner Director/Legal Associate/Lawyer Director/Non-Legal Staff Special Counsel