29 BACK TO NAVIGATION 2017 AusLSA Member Performance Eighty-five percent of AusLSA member firms have programs in place or in development that coordinate skilled and non-skilled non-legal volunteering programs for staff and half of these firm allocated paid staff time to participate in volunteering. Eighty-two percent actively supported their employees and partners’ participation on boards and administrative positions in not-for-profit community organisations. Seventy-seven percent said their partners and employees currently sat on boards of community organisations. Examples of the types of volunteering activities undertaken in 2017 include various charity events and appeals, blood donations, student tutoring and mentoring, local community sporting days and secondments to NGOs. Only five of our reporting firms said they monitored the levels of participation but a further ten said they were currently developing these systems. The average participation rate currently recorded is twenty-nine percent. Challenges and Opportunities The investments in non-legal volunteering programs or initiatives at individual law firms can involve significant time and financial costs. While there are good systems in place to record lawyer time afforded to both pro-bono legal matters, there are often few systems in place to record the non-legal volunteering time. Improved monitoring and evaluation systems will assist the firms to understand and tell the story of the benefits that comes from these investments. The growth of the community partnerships also provides a new model to apply volunteering activities in a more strategic way that prioritises existing commitments and investments in organisations and issues. These programs can be the focus of an increased and more consistent commitment by the firm through a clearer connection to selected programs. This approach can also provide a greater focus and a more disciplined way to target programs and activities where these deliverables align more closely with the firm’s objectives. Volunteering is an act of freewill and so firms also need to find and promote opportunities that are attractive and varied where volunteers personally value the difference they make. Just as not all accountants want to be the treasurer, some lawyers may enjoy the variety of volunteering in a non-legal capacity as it provides a break from their legal work and allows them to follow specific interests or causes. PARTICIPATION MONITORED 24% 76% Yes No %