02 October 2009

Pro Bono Legal Work in Australia...

There are about 50,000 lawyers in Australia and about 5,700 of those have signed onto the National Pro Bono Resource Centre to get lawyers to do 35 hours of pro bono work every year. This is a significant jump in lawyers signing on. The previous year saw 2,900 lawyers participating.

Well, figures released this week shows that these lawyers did some 183,771.5 pro bono hours or almost AUD 46 million of pro bono work. This figure is costed at AUD 250 per hour which is probably lower than the average hourly charge out rate for most. The number of hours is up from 113,356 hours of the previous year.

It is worth noting that of the 44,300 lawyers not signed up to the program there are very many who do pro bono work as well. Therefore, it is fair to say that Australian lawyers are making sizable pro bono contributions as the rule rather than as the exception.

Governments never have the money to properly fund legal aid services, and therefore pro bono work serves to offset some of the lack of funding. The other primary beneficiaries of pro bono work are charities and non-government organizations.

Public interest law like legal aid is always challenging and pro bono work is always a good way to vary your routine and to keep your skills up to date in areas of law that you might not practice on a regular basis.

(Cartoons courtesy of here)


scarred said...

I think your analysis is flawed. The move that you should have mentioned should be to more use of ADR. Lawyers often do more harm than good.

Rob Baiton said...


I am not sure which analysis you are referring to. Is it the idea that pro bono work offsets a funding shortfall?

Otherwise, I think the piece is probably short on analysis of anything substantive.

I am certainly not arguing that there is not a move towards ADR mechanisms. But, the post was not about ADR but about pro bono work and the figures quantifying that work.

Pro bono work is what it is. Sometimes it might be litigation work at places like legal aid or Aboriginal legal services. Or, it might simply be helping a new NGO to draft a constitution, or a charity with some tax law advice.

Pro bono is hardly just about litigation.

Does the statement "lawyers often do more harm than good" any reflection on the pen name you have adopted?

Is the harm often? I guess this is going to depend on how you categorize harm. In adversarial matters there generally is always one party that is more happy than the other. This is the nature of the game.

scarred said...

Ok, maybe I was a bit harsh. A recent case in Indonesia went from Arbitation in Singapore (resolved) to a court decision in Jakarta - Astro and Direct Vision/First Media (and the outcome was similar in both cases)

No, not scarred by lawyers.

Rob Baiton said...


The bigger news is always matters that go to arbitration elsewhere (resolved) and then return to the Central Jakarta District Court to be affirmed for execution and then become unresolved.

muebles torrejon de ardoz said...

For my part one and all ought to look at it.