26 COMMUNITY | LEGAL SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHT 2016 PRO BONO PROGRAMS The legal profession has long embraced a professional and ethical responsibility to provide legal assistance to those who do not have adequate access to justice, a service that lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide. In this context, the role of pro bono legal work in Australia has become increasingly visible both within the legal profession and the community. Many law firms facilitate the provision of pro bono services through 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, and to further the public interest. In 2015, AusLSA and the Australian Pro Bono Centre (Centre) agreed to work together to reinforce their shared interests in the sustainability related programs of law firms. In FY2016, AusLSA added pro bono performance to the AusLSA Sustainability Framework. Members began providing information about their pro bono strategy and management. Members also reported on whether they were signatories to the voluntary National Pro Bono Aspirational Target (Target), launched ten years ago as a benchmark of pro bono performance. Signatories to the Target agree to use their best efforts to provide at least 35 hours of pro bono legal services per lawyer per year. This year, AusLSA members have begun reporting on their performance against the Target. The 10th Annual Performance Report of the Target indicates that in FY2017 signatories averaged thirty-six pro bono hours per lawyer and performed 420,000 hours - 18,000 hours more than FY2016. Almost half of signatories, forty-nine percent, met or exceeded the Target of thirty-five hours. The Centre’s Fifth National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey Report indicates that in recent years pro bono has grown markedly among firms of between 201-449 FTE lawyers, as well as smaller firms of between 50 and 200 FTE lawyers. A key driver of this growth is the rising unmet legal need of asylum seekers. Employment law, commercial agreements, immigration, governance and deductible gift recipient status (DGRS) are the top five areas of law and practice which firms surveyed nominated as areas in which they provide pro bono legal services. FORMAL STRATEGY MANAGEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITY 97% 3% Yes Currently in Development STRATEGY 7% 7% 4% 7% 4% 14% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Partner Director/Legal Associate/Lawyer Director/Non-Legal Staff Not Reported Special Counsel Senior Associate 64%