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2024 National Pro Bono Target Review: Consultation Paper

The Law Council of Australia responded to the Australian Pro Bono Centre in relation to its December 2023 Consultation Paper, 2024 National Pro Bono Target Review.

As the Law Council remarked in its 2018 Final Report of the Justice Project, the pro bono contribution of the Australian legal profession is a substantial — and celebrated — aspect of Australia’s legal culture.1 Australian lawyers provide hundreds of thousands of pro bono work hours every year to those who are otherwise unable to access legal services. The Law Council was particularly pleased to note that, in the 2022–23 financial year, signatories to the Target reported undertaking 700,910 hours of ‘pro bono legal services’, an increase of 8.6 per cent on the previous financial year.2

The Law Council recognises that there are ongoing challenges with meeting demand for individuals and organisations that require pro bono legal support, noting in particular that disadvantaged individuals often have complex legal needs, and face multiple barriers to accessing justice, particularly in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas. Traditionally, there has been high demand for pro bono services for matters involving family law, immigration, employment, housing and criminal law.

In addition, the legal profession is increasingly engaging in pro bono work with a new strategic focus by identifying priority groups—and priority areas of law—for pro bono assistance. It has been a tumultuous several years for Australia, including extreme weather events, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an uncertain economy. As a result, new cohorts have emerged who are struggling to access legal services: for example, farmers affected by droughts and floods, and small businesses impacted by emergency public health measures or natural disasters. These groups require assistance in different areas of law, such as business law, taxation and insurance.

Read the full submission below.


1 Law Council of Australia, The Justice Project: Legal Services (Final Report, August 2018) <https://lawcouncil.au/files/web-pdf/Justice%20Project/Final%20Report/18%20-%202018%2009%20-%20Final%20-%20Legal%20Services%20%28Part%202%29.pdf> 13-15.
2 Australian Pro Bono Centre, 16th Annual Performance Report of the National Pro Bono Target (September 2023) <https://www.probonocentre.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/16th-Performance-Report-of-the-National-Pro-Bono-Target-2023-FINAL.pdf> 4.

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