Australia’s National Pro Bono Resource Centre, an independent organization that promotes pro bono legal services in Australia, recently released its second annual report summarizing the number of pro hours undertaken by signatories to its aspirational annual target of 35 hours of pro bono per lawyer. Signatories and pro bono hours increased substantially over last year, with the Centre reporting the number of lawyer signatories up from 2900 last year to 5700 this year and pro bono work up from 113, 356 hours to 180,771.5 hours. Reports indicated that the success of the Centre’s initiative was helped by the Australian government’s decision to take account of whether its firm or lawyer vendors had signed on to the target. However, the total number of signatories to the aspirational target is still only about 11% of the country’s lawyers.
The Centre’s initiative and individual attorneys' pro bono work is commendable. There is always the lingering question, though: Are aspirational targets enough?
IBA Pro bono and Access to Justice Committee