Lawyers Sign Up for Annual Pro Bono Target
7 May 2007 at 1:44 pm
The National Pro Bono (Legal) Resource Centre has launched the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target which sees lawyers sign up to do a minimum of 35 hours of pro bono legal work each year.
Over 3000 lawyers have already signed up to the Target.
The NPBRC says the Target enshrines a key ethical value of the legal profession – to provide pro bono legal services to low income, marginalised or disadvantaged people who would otherwise have no other access to legal assistance.
It is based on similar initiatives from the USA. The Centre is encouraging all lawyers and firms to commit to the Target, by signing on to its Statement of Principles.
Centre Director, John Corker says the main aim of the initiative is to raise the profile of pro bono across the legal profession and to lift it above being just a ‘fuzzy concept’.
He says most lawyers embrace pro bono as a fundamental professional and ethical responsibility. The Target highlights the shared nature of that responsibility.
Apart from establishing themselves as leaders in pro bono practice, Corker says firms who sign on are likely to attract and retain the best graduates.
He says Centre research indicates that young lawyers respond well to a firm that makes a clear commitment to pro bono and this is a way that a firm can do that.
The figure of 35 hours per year is based on the Centre’s research and reflects levels of pro bono already being undertaken by many within the profession.
Aware, however, that many lawyers are already doing what they can and may not reach the 35 hour target this year, the Centre is asking them to take a long term view of their commitment and to join others in signing on.
Signatories are being asked to monitor their progress towards the Target and the Centre will each year release non-identifying data to show the number of signatories and the percentage who have met the 35 hours a year target.
To sign up online go to www.nationalprobono.org.au/target.