b'COMMUNITY| LEGAL SECTOR| 2020SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTPRO BONO PROGRAMSThis year pro bono programs have been dealing with two massive social disruptions; the 2019-20 bushfire disaster and the 2020 COVID pandemic. In response to the bushfire disaster a wide range of organisations within the legal assistance sector (including Legal Aid NSW, Victorian Legal Aid, Justice Connect, CLCs NSW, the Law Society of NSW, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Federation of CLCs, the NSW and Victorian Bar Associations, Financial Rights Legal Centre, and the Australian Pro Bono Centre) coordinated response to mobilise resources and develop a formalised process for volunteering pro bono legal support for those affected by the bushfires.As the impacts of the COVID pandemic continue to grow, legal pro bono providers are feeling the pressure to adapt to the increased and changed demands while innovating to deliver their support in an effective and safe way. The pandemic has created a range of simultaneous economic, employment, health and equality emergencies felt most significantly by individuals already experiencing disadvantage and those not-for-profits, community organisations and charities that assist them. Legal advice and assistance is a service that lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide and the Australian legal profession has a consistently strong record of providing legal support to those without adequate access to justice. Pro bono assistance is in high demand in a range of practice areas, including employment law, criminal law, immigration, tenancy, advice on government emergency measures, financial and welfare rights, climate justice, First Nations justice, family violence, governance and deductible gift recipient status (DGRS) processes, and to a variety of client groups.While individual ethical and professional responsibility provides the foundation for legal pro bono in the profession, law firms are increasingly providing resources to help support, organise and leverage services as a core part of their community engagement or corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. In many cases the focus of their practice integrates well with elements of their CSR strategies including philanthropy, non-legal volunteering, diversity and inclusion programs, and indigenous reconciliation programs. The role of pro bono legal work in Australia has become increasingly visible both within the legal profession and the community.The increase in engagement with the National Pro Bono Target (the Target) and requests for pro bono information from clients are factors in increasingly structured pro bono programs. Through these programs, lawyers are supported and encouraged to undertake pro bono legal work for socially disadvantaged and marginalised persons and the organisations that support them. The Australian Pro Bono Centre (Centre) has worked with AusLSA to incorporate pro bono program information into its Sustainability Framework since 2015. The Centre oversees the National Pro Bono Target. The Target provides the most used measure of pro bono performance in Australia. Signatories agree to use their best efforts to provide at least 35 hours of pro bono legal services per lawyer per year.The Centre opened the Target on 1 July 2020 to in-house legal signatories who will be committing to using their best endeavours to achieve at least 20 hours of pro bono legal services per in-house lawyer per year. Since the Target was established in 2007 the number of Target signatories have increased from 58 to 187 signatories. Signatories to the Target now cover 15,778.5 FTE lawyers who conducted 551,428 hours of pro bono legal work in FY2020. This is an average of 36.4 pro bono hours per lawyer or equivalent to 306 lawyers working full time (according to the 13th Annual Performance Report of the Target). The 13th Annual Target report, which covers a significant period affected by the Bushfire disaster and the COVID pandemic, indicates FY2020 annual increases of seventeen percent in total pro bono hours and of twelve percent in the number of lawyers covered by the Target. FORMAL STRATEGY MANAGEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITYSpecial CounselDirector/Non-Legal StaffSTRATEGYAssociate/LawyerDirector/LegalPartner0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%Yes 97% Currently in Development 3%40'