Pro Bono Work

The cost of undertaking pro bono work can be significant. Becoming a referral service panel member can ease some of that burden. Matters are assessed and certified as having merit before a firm or barrister is asked whether they might take a matter on. See below for further details.

Get involved with the Pro Bono Referral Service

About the Pro Bono Referral Service

The service was previously known as the Pro Bono Clearing House. The service aims to match worthy pro bono matters with firms willing to provide pro bono assistance.

How it Works
Applicants complete a comprehensive application form and submit it to the Society. The application undergoes a preliminary assessment and a summary and recommendation to the Pro Bono committee is made. The committee decides whether pro bono assistance should be granted.

Applications are means and merit tested. Generally speaking the legal aid means test is applied. In terms of merit the matter must have reasonable prospects of success (or in the case of non-litigious matters reasonable prospects of being achieved or completed). In all cases a consideration is whether a lack of representation would result in a serious injustice or signification detrimental outcome or whether the legal issues raised affect a significant number of people or raise matters of broad public concern.

Your Commitment
Inclusion on the Pro Bono Panel means that the Society would, from time to time contact you to ask whether you are able to offer pro bono assistance. There is no obligation on you to do so. Obviously there is an expectation that assistance will be given if you have the time, resources and expertise to help.

In the vast majority of cases where a barrister is involved it is the intention of the Pro Bono Referral Service to match the barrister with an appropriate firm.

You will NOT receive a request to assist every week, every month or even every six months (unless you request otherwise). The Society is acutely aware of the many demands on practitioners and is committed to not taking advantage of a willingness to assist in providing pro bono services.

Generally speaking costs can be sought from the other, unsuccessful party when acting on a pro bono basis.

The Society is able to provide further information in respect of providing pro bono services. For information about the national pro bono scheme, see the Australian Pro Bono Centre, here.

Why Pro Bono?
On the Law Institute of Victoria’s website, Linda Rayment listed a number of the rewards she found in undertaking pro bono work:

  • Professional responsibility. For those that believe that the privilege of practising law carries an obligation to assist those who face obstacles in accessing justice, pro bono work provides a way to assist clients who otherwise may have no access to justice.
  • Increased mental health. Concentrating on “what can I do for someone else?” has a natural side effect for improving your state of mind and mental health
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Reputational advantages
  • Development of personal and professional skills

What do I do now?
If you are interested in being a panel member please contact the Society. Please let the Society know the areas of law in which you are you are able to provide pro bono services along with the appropriate contact at your firm.