Volunteering your legal expertise or time
Pro bono legal service is closely linked to the corporate social responsibility of the legal profession. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to facilitate access to justice.
Why do pro bono work?
Pro bono comes from the Latin phrase ‘pro bono publico’, which means ‘for the public good’. In the legal context it means the provision of legal services on a free or significantly reduced fee basis.
Some of the key reasons why lawyers do pro bono work include:
- to help disadvantaged members of the community who cannot afford legal assistance;
- to redress some of the inequities which result from unequal access to justice;
- because it is part of a firm’s social and corporate responsibility;
- because it provides opportunities for employees to broaden their skills by dealing with a diverse of clients with a range of legal issues; and
- to increase employee engagement, and improve staff morale.
What pro bono work does the Law Society coordinate?
Legal Advice Bureau
The Law Society has been operating its Legal Advice Bureau (LAB) at lunchtimes for more than 30 years. Members of the Society volunteer their time to LAB at the Society’s Civic office between 12.30pm and 2pm on weekdays, with Wednesdays reserved for family law matters. Volunteer solicitors give 15 minutes of free advice to members of the public who make an appointment. LAB solicitors do not draft documents. They may refer clients to another solicitor or, if eligible, to Legal Aid. Volunteers are rostered on an ‘as needs’ basis, and the LAB Administrator will contact volunteers to confirm their availability before any bookings are made.
If you would like to volunteer your time to the LAB, please contact the LAB Administrator on 02 6274 0300.
Pro Bono Clearing House
The ACT Pro Bono Clearing House was established to connect two groups of people in the community — those who are able to provide pro bono legal assistance and those who need such assistance. The clearing house is a ‘last resort’ for legal assistance after all other avenues for legal assistance have been exhausted. The clearing house currently considers three or four applications per week. Applications for assistance are received from organisations and individuals, and these applications are assessed by a panel of ACT legal practitioners which meets weekly. Approved applications for pro bono assistance are then referred on to a network of legal providers.
If your firm would be willing to accept referrals from the clearing house, or you would like to offer you assistance to the Assessment Panel or as a Secondee, please contact the Clearing House Administrator on 02 6274 0300.