The Commonwealth Government is contemplating giving directions to government agencies not to withhold work from law firms that undertake pro bono work against the government in areas such as migration.
The move is a response to fears being expressed by law firms that despite government encouragement to provide pro bono services, the firms may lose out on lucrative government work if they represent clients who are taking action against the government.
Many firms are eager to show themselves as being involved in the provision of legal services outside the corporate and commercial arena. But where they believe providing those services might threaten existing or proposed government contracts, firms often harbour serious concerns.
The Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department is said to be examining a draft direction put together by the National Pro Bono Resource Centre that would protect these firms and guard against their being discriminated against.