New Zealand law firms are beginning to get their pro bono act together with ‘unsophisticated systems’ measuring the pro bono work they do, an article in BusinessDesk reports.
The article from Victoria Young notes that Chapman Tripp is the number 1 law firm in terms of the pro bono work it delivers, being $1.5 million a year over the last three years.
Chapman Tripp is the largest law firm in the country by head count and probably also by billings and has had a formal system for providing this work for the past 17 years. The services it provides includes BLAKE (formerly the Sir Peter Blake Trust), youth charity First Foundation, Canterbury-based Māia Health Foundation, and the NZ Opera.
Next up has been Russell McVeagh with more than $1 million in each of the past three years.
Bell Gully was just under $1 million for the past two years and over the million in 2020.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts have a rough estimate of $300,000 for each of the past three years and Buddle Findlay were unable to provide a figure to the publication.
DLAPiper valued its 2021 pro bono contribution at $1.04 million, up from over $700,000 and over $875,000 in the earlier years.
Law Society requirements are set out in section 9 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, which restricts what lawyers can provide pro bono services via Community Law Centres or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Law firm partners or barristers may provide the services to whoever they chose.
National MP Chris Bishop’s proposed amendment to the legislation would permit any lawyers to provide pro bono services to whoever they chose to provide services to.
Many lawyers clearly provide pro bono services independently and see it as part of their commitment to their community. Leading barrister Jim Farmer QC has previously written on the subject here.