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)