THE NATIONAL Pro Bono Resource Centre (NPBRC) is currently undertaking a survey of the pro bono work being conducted by solicitors, barristers and law firms in every state and territory in Australia.
A trial of the survey has already been done in Queensland with individual solicitors. South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are next in line, with Victoria and New South Wales due to be surveyed later in the year.
Both the School of Law at Queensland University of Technology and the Law Society of Queensland (QLS) assisted in implementing the Queensland survey. Among the more important findings of the last 12 month period, 79 per cent of respondents had done pro bono work, while 67 per cent had not done any legal aid. Most of the pro bono work was in family law, crime, and wills and probate.
Of the respondents who had undertaken pro bono work, 58 per cent had done greater than 30 hours in the last year.
A total of 86 per cent of those surveyed agreed that lawyers had a duty to do pro bono work, with most lawyers citing “helping the disadvantaged”, “personal satisfaction” and “professional responsibility” as the main reasons.
Fifty eight per cent of contributors to the survey supported both a statement from the Queensland Law Society supporting lawyers’ commitment to pro bono work and ‘aspirational pro bono targets’.
Lawyers are encouraged by the NPBRC to complete the 10-minute survey online, and will be notified by their respective law societies of the appropriate link by email.
An independent, non-profit organisation, the NPBRC was established to support and promote pro bono work in Australia after the recommendations of the 2001 National Pro Bono Task Force. Funding is provided by the commonwealth, state and territory departments of the Attorney-General. The NPBRC is based at the faculty of law at the University of New South Wales, and commenced its operations in August 2002.