International NGO PILnet and the Australian charity Justice Connect today announced a ground-breaking collaboration to provide a pro bono platform to support access to justice around the world. This platform would help to efficiently connect vulnerable and marginalized communities and individuals with free, high-quality legal assistance from pro bono lawyers around the world.
Over 5 billion people globally have a legal problem each year, with the majority missing out on any legal assistance. Currently, around 2.3 million hours are contributed pro bono by lawyers to access to justice projects each year across the world. A recent survey undertaken by PILnet and Justice Connect showed that 76% of organizations that match lawyers with pro bono opportunities (clearinghouses) would likely use the platform. PILnet and Justice Connect anticipate that their global platform could double the number of hours contributed by lawyers for free over the next five years.
Justice Connect and PILnet collectively work with hundreds of law firms, over 50 clearinghouses and over 10,000 pro bono lawyers, across 60 countries.
Justice Connect CEO, Chris Povey, said, “Our partnership with PILnet will enable jurisdictions around the world to benefit from Justice Connect’s work to date. This represents an opportunity to significantly scale the impact of our work, and to support the growth of pro bono and access to justice internationally.”
“Not only does this represent a significant opportunity to help more people, it will also enable us to understand global trends in unmet legal needs so that we can strategically allocate resources for greater impact,” said Garth Meintjes, executive director of PILnet.
Brooke Massender, Global Head of Pro Bono at international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, said, “We strongly support the thoughtful, design-led approach to harnessing technology so that we can better match our pro bono resources with legal need.”
The platform will be developed based on Justice Connect’s Pro Bono Portal in Australia that connects people and NGOs with unmet legal needs with pro bono lawyers from 49 firms. With seed funding from Google and a range of philanthropists, the platform was co-designed with firms and help-seekers to create an intuitive system, and recently won a prestigious Gold Good Design Award in social impact. Since the launch of Justice Connect’s Pro Bono Portal, the number of pro bono referrals to pro bono lawyers that Justice Connect makes has doubled with no increase in resourcing.
Globally, appetite in the legal profession to undertake pro bono work is steadily increasing year on year. This platform will apply sophisticated technology to unlock latent pro bono legal capacity and match it with unmet legal need in an efficient manner. The collaboration aims to create a model that employs best practices, is secure, and reduces costs and overheads as much as possible for all users of the system.
For information, please contact:
Kate Fazio, Justice Connect, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrej Nosko, PILnet, email@example.com