b'COMMUNITY| LEGAL SECTOR| 2021SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTPRO BONO PROGRAMSIntroductionLegal 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 this to those without adequate access to justice. Pro bono assistance is in high demand in a range of practice areas, including employment law, financial services, criminal law, immigration, tenancy, insurance, 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 pro bono services as a core part of their community engagement or social impact strategies. In many cases, the focus of their practice integrates well with elements of their social impact strategies, which often also include philanthropy, non-legal volunteering, diversity and inclusion programs, and Indigenous reconciliation programs. COVID Impacts This year, pro bono programs have been responding to a series of massive social disruptions and disasters: the continuing consequences of the 2019/2020 bushfire disaster, the 2021 east coast floods, Cyclone Seroja in WA, the WA Wooroloo bushfires, and more than 18 months of a COVID pandemic. In response to the bushfire disaster a wide range of organisations within the legal assistance sector (including Legal Aid NSW, Victoria 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 a response to mobilise resources and develop a formalised process for volunteering pro bono legal support for those affected. Following the east coast floods, Justice Connect has been coordinating law firm pro bono legal help to individuals, small businesses, farms and community groups. In WA, Law Access collaborated with community legal centres and Legal Aid WA to establish a panel of pro bono lawyers to assist people affected by Cyclone Seroja and the Wooroloo bushfires. The legal assistance sector has learned from previous disasters that the need for pro bono support to assist recovery from large natural disasters like floods and bushfires is a long-term commitment which continues long after the initial trauma of the event.The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact organisations and people differently. It is now clear that those most significantly affected are those who were already vulnerable or experience social inequality. The pandemic has created a range of simultaneous economic, employment, health and equality emergencies which have been felt most significantly by individuals already experiencing disadvantage, and those not-for-profits, community organisations and charities that assist them.As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified, legal pro bono providers have felt the pressure to adapt to the increased and changed demands while innovating to deliver their support in an effective and safe way. FORMAL STRATEGY MANAGEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITYSpecial CounselDirector/Non-Legal StaffSTRATEGYAssociate/LawyerDirector/LegalPartner0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%Yes 94% Currently in Development 6%48'