find the latest legal job
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
And justice for all

And justice for all

Ross Ray QC, President of the Law Council of Australia, makes the case for continued commitment to pro bono work in the legal professionLawyers have the opportunity to participate in one of the…

Ross Ray QC, President of the Law Council of Australia, makes the case for continued commitment to pro bono work in the legal profession

Lawyers have the opportunity to participate in one of the world’s great professions. They have earned this right to practise law through hard work and dedication to the profession.

However, the legal profession also has the responsibility to make “access to justice” a reality for all. Access to justice for all of the Australian community is fundamental to the maintenance of the rule of law and to the stability of the community at large.

The Australian legal profession has a rich tradition of providing pro bono legal services to areas of the community most in need. Figures released in September showed that Australia’s largest law firms undertook $48.5 million of pro bono work in the past year.

According to the National Pro Bono Resource Centre study, the nation’s top 25 firms delivered a total of nearly 200,000 hours of pro bono legal work during the year. In other words, on any given week, the lawyers in the top 25 firms are giving 3740 hours of their time for free.

This is an impressive result. It is nearly as much as the $55 million spent by both state and Federal governments on community legal centres in Australia in the same period.

“Lawyers conducting pro bono

matters often have greater control

of a whole case than they

do when working in their

normal legal fields”

Of course, contributions varied greatly between the firms. Some firms averaged less than five hours per lawyer per year with those at the other extreme providing more than 90 hours per lawyer per year – that’s more than two weeks of pro bono work a year for each lawyer.

And it’s not just the big end of town that is putting its hands up. The statistics for the legal profession as a whole are very encouraging. Figures suggest that about $250 million of pro bono work was performed by Australian solicitors in 2007 – the equivalent of one week per year for each solicitor in this country.

The Australian Bars also support the community through considerable pro bono assistance by their members. That’s an admirable commitment by the legal profession to dedicate such a significant portion of their time to “working for free” in the interests of the community.

Pro bono work greatly benefits the community, but it also benefits the legal profession itself. Young lawyers in particular can reap the rewards of undertaking pro bono work.

Not only are they being given an opportunity to make a significant difference in people’s lives, they’re enhancing their own skills and career prospects in the process. Pro bono work allows lawyers to develop their legal and managerial skills. Lawyers conducting pro bono matters often have greater control of a whole case than they do when working in their normal legal fields.

They therefore have the opportunity to develop strategy and maintain an overview of the whole case.

Assisting pro bono clients can also broaden lawyers’ communication and inter-personal skills beyond those required to deal with commercial clients. Lawyers develop confidence as they recognise their abilities to assist clients and extend their skills. This transfers positively to the way they approach their other work.

Pro bono projects allow lawyers from different practice groups to work together as a team, in creative and collaborative ways. Pro bono can also increase job satisfaction. It has been suggested that retention rates increase as lawyers get more varied work, more satisfaction from and more control over their work. Anecdotally, firms in Australia and abroad have spoken of improved morale resulting from the firm’s pro bono program.

The virtues of pro bono work will be discussed at length at the up-coming Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference, to be held in Sydney on 14 and 15 November 2008.

A joint venture between the Law Council of Australia and the National Pro Bono Resource Centre, this year’s conference will explore how various groups can work more closely together and collaborate in projects and programs that will address access to justice issues

For more information, go to

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

And justice for all
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 22 2017
Reduced investment protections will make robust commercial arbitration mechanisms all the more critical for investors
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the current trend away from investor protect...
Nov 22 2017
‘Document tsunami’ driving lawyers to upskill in TAR
A prominent Victorian judge has highlighted the growing need for lawyers to expand their knowledge o...
Defamation expert appointed to lead Victorian Bar
Nov 22 2017
Defamation expert appointed to lead Victorian Bar
The Victorian Bar has named Dr Matt Collins QC as its new president, with an additional eight member...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...