A publication of the Australian Pro Bono Centre

Round-Up: 2 March 2023

Story of the week 

Pro bono hours continue to rise, but ‘greater participation’ still needed from BigLaw firms - Lawyers Weekly
Findings from the APBC's 8th National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey show that Australian law firms have once again increased the volume of pro bono hours they undertake annually. However, there remains “room for growth” among the nation’s biggest legal practices — even if capacity is a “major constraint”.

National News

Youth justice overhaul 'directly at odds' with Path to Treaty and Closing the Gap, Queensland government warned
Indigenous leaders and advocates have criticised Queensland's proposed overhaul of the youth justice system as being likely to have a grossly disproportionate impact on young Indigenous people. The government has been warned that the planned changes could also be met with "extreme resistance" from youth detention centre workers who are “already struggling”.

One year on: The ongoing legal fallout of the Northern Rivers floods
One year ago, the first of two catastrophic floods enveloped Northern NSW and Southeast Queensland, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless, businesses destroyed and lives lost. The LSJ spoke with Nicole Jenkins, Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre Manager, to find out how their work has evolved during the last tumultuous 12 months. 

HopgoodGanim pro bono partner wanted to be able to live on the beach 
HopgoodGanim’s Head of Pro Bono, Leanne Collingburn, sat down with Australasian Lawyer to speak about her career path, pro bono practice and the future of the legal sector in Australia. 

NSW's fourth drug court opens in Dubbo as a way to break drug dependency
NSW’s fourth drug court has opened in Dubbo, New South Wales. This marks the expansion of the program, which takes a rehabilitative approach to drug-dependent offenders, by providing access to treatment and support services to help break the cycle of addiction-related offending. 

Shorter Indigenous life expectancy should mean lower pension age, court told
A case has been brought before the Federal Court of Australia, arguing that Indigenous Australians should be entitled to access their age pension from a younger age than non-Indigenous Australians, due to their significantly shorter life expectancy. The case is being brought by the Human Rights Law Centre alongside the Victoria Aboriginal Legal Service and DLA Piper, on behalf of a 65-year-old Indigenous man who is seeking to access the pension three years early. 

We #FixedFundraising: Justice Connect celebrates an advocacy victory of national importance
The Commonwealth, state and territory Treasurers have announced their agreement to a set of nationally consistent fundraising principles. The new National Fundraising Principles will bring an end to seven separate (and inconsistent) sets of onerous fundraising laws, and will enable charities to focus on delivering vital services. This development is a result of Justice Connect’s decade-long #FixFundraising campaign. 

Updates from the sector

Release of the 8th National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey

The Centre is pleased to release the results of the 8th National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey. The Survey has been conducted every two years since 2008, and is the only longitudinal study of pro bono legal work performed by Australian firms with 50 or more lawyers.

To view the full Survey report, see here.

Request for submissions: Study on ESG and Pro Bono

The Australian Pro Bono Centre and PILnet are partnering on a global study to examine the interaction between ESG and pro bono. We encourage law firms, in-house legal teams, public interest organisations and academics to participate. To provide your submission, click here.

Catch our Centre CEO Gabriela Christian-Hare at Spotlight ANZ in Melbourne on the 9 March! 

Speaking alongside Cassandra Evans (Phi Finney McDonald), Kathleen Lieuw-Kie-Song-Drown (Law In Order Pty Ltd) and Gulsun Demirel (Relativity), the session will discuss how pro bono programs are a vital part of the legal system. Register here.

Submit your proposal for the 2023 PILnet Global Conference!

Don't miss the opportunity to submit a session proposal for the 2023 PILnet Global Forum! Deadline for submissions close on Friday 31 March. Submit your proposal here

A4ID’s Annual Conference on Pro Bono for the Rule of Law

This year’s A4ID Annual Conference themed "Harnessing the Power of Partnerships" will take place on 20 March 2023. The conference will convene legal professionals, development partners, and rule of law stakeholders from the government and corporate sectors to engage on the challenges, opportunities, and diversities of partnerships. Sign up here. 

Save the Date: 2023 Q1 Asia Pro Bono Roundtable on Measuring Pro Bono Impact

The Asia Pro Bono Roundtable is a joint initiative organised by A4ID, BABSEACLE, iProbono, TrustLaw and PILnet. This session will be held via Zoom on Thursday 30 March 2023 and will focus on the tools and resources to measure the impact of pro bono. For more details and how to sign up, see here

Climate Initiatives

Case study spotlight: Lander & Rogers on SLAPPs 

The case study describes how Gunns, an Australian logging company, initiated a strategic lawsuit against public participation (a "SLAPP lawsuit") against 20 protestors who were trying to prevent the logging of an old-growth forest in Tasmania. Lander & Rogers provided pro bono legal assistance to one of the protestors, resulting in the case being settled three days before trial. Read the full case study here

Have a climate case study to share? Submit it here.

International News



One year on: A&O’s global pro bono legal support for Ukrainian refugees
In the year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Allen & Overy has partnered with professional organisations, NGOs and other law firms to provided legal support to Ukrainian refugees facing a wide range of legal issues.

North America

Appellate pro bono attorneys step up to defend children
'Defending Best Interests' is an initiative of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Office, in which attorneys act for children in termination of parental rights appeals on a pro bono basis. In doing so, they help remove obstacles to children finding safe and loving homes, as children cannot be adopted while they are the subject of an open appeal. In the five and a half years since the initiative's inception, pro bono attorneys have handled over 560 cases and donated nearly 12,000 hours, representing $3.6 million in in-kind contributions.

Pro Bono Net's Immigrant justice technology incubator Justicia Lab announces $500,000 in funding from
Justicia Lab, an immigrant justice technology incubator by Pro Bono Net, has received $500,000 in funding from’s support will enable Justicia Lab to nationally scale a free and accessible universal intake and case referral tool. The new integrated platform will provide resources for immigrants to understand the legal system and their rights within it, complete immigration forms, and help connect them to in-person and virtual support.

Latin America and Caribbean

Interest in pro bono on the rise in Colombia 
Pro bono work in Colombia faces challenges due to multiple factors, including insufficient capacity at courts and numerous delays. However, pro bono work has increased and allowed more people to believe in achieving justice, writes Marcela Ayala of Baker Mackenzie Bogotá. 


ExpertsDirect Pro Bono Service  

A service for pro bono and community lawyers, connecting them with professionals who are willing to provide expert witness services for free or at low cost in legal cases assisting those experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation.

See our website for more information.

Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme

The Centre operates the Scheme to encourage and support in-house corporate, government and volunteer lawyers to undertake pro bono legal work. The Scheme provides free insurance to lawyers and paralegals working on pro bono projects approved by the Centre.

Click here to find out more about the Scheme or to apply for cover.

Social Justice Opportunities

For the latest career and volunteering opportunities:
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands on which we work throughout Australia. We pay our respects to the Elders – past, present and emerging – and the youth who are
working towards a brighter tomorrow.
The Australian Pro Bono Centre is grateful for the funding support it receives from the governments of the Commonwealth and all states and territories, and the in-kind support it receives from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Government Solicitor, private firms, volunteers and the Faculty of Law & Justice at UNSW Sydney, which includes the use of the Faculty’s premises and facilities and support from student interns.

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