OVER the past ten years Australian lawyers have contributed nearly 3 million pro bono hours of legal work.
The Australian Pro Bono Centre's 10th Annual Performance Report shows Australian lawyers gave 2.86 million pro bono hours to the community over the last 10 years.
420,195 of those hours were contributed during the last financial year alone, up from 402,216 in FY16.
Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod, said the free work contributed to communities by lawyers is unique to the profession in Australia.
"There is simply no other profession in the country with such an established culture of helping those who need it for free," says McLeod.
"Australian lawyers have given away millions of hours in the past decade to those who have no one else to turn to."
The figures roughly equate to one week of unpaid work a year for every Australian lawyer.
The numbers also equate to at least 35 hours of pro bono services per lawyer per year.
"And we know the official numbers will tend to vastly under-represent the actual level of pro bono achieved by private practitioners," says McLeod.
Despite the mammoth amount of hours clocked each year by Australian lawyers, the country still struggles to provide access to justice for every Australian in need.
"The access to justice problem that has been created by the legal assistance funding crisis would be far worse were it not for the culture of pro bono ingrained deep in the Australian profession," says McLeod.
"In order for pro bono to be truly effective a strong legal assistance sector is vital, especially the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Community Legal Centres."
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