Pro bono

AGS lawyers have a long tradition of using their professional skills to serve the public interest, both through their work across government and in supporting community interests though pro bono work – it is part of AGS's culture. In a conference paper, the former CEO of the Australian Pro Bono Centre, John Corker, described AGS as one of the legal agencies 'leading government lawyers in developing this [pro bono] culture'.

AGS's outstanding pro bono contribution was recognised when it received the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Pro Bono Award in August 2019.

Update on AGS's pro bono program

We have actively encouraged AGS lawyers to undertake pro bono work in their own capacity since 2002, and we began investing in AGS pro bono activities in 2006. In November 2008, we signed up to the Australian Pro Bono Centre's Aspirational Target. AGS makes a significant pro bono contribution through its pro bono program, which involves lawyers across our practice.

AGS recognises the pivotal role pro bono assistance plays in increasing access to justice and, with this in mind, has continually increased the expected target hours each of its lawyers are to undertake on a pro bono basis.

Scope of AGS’s pro bono program 

AGS works within the confines of its functions and to powers under the Judiciary Act 1903 to provide a broad range of pro bono services across Australia and internationally, including:

  • Placement work: placing AGS lawyers with public interest clearing houses, community legal centres and not-for-profit organisations across Australia, for example, the Arts Law Centre of Australia, Canberra Community Law, the Consumer Action Law Centre, the Consumer Credit Legal Services, the Consumer Law Centre, the Disability Discrimination Legal Service, the Financial Rights Legal Centre, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, and the Tasmanian Pro Bono Referral Service, the Women’s Legal Centre and Youth Law Australia. 
  • Project work: AGS lawyers: 
    • providing legal assistance through the LawHelp pro bono referral scheme. AGS helped establish LawHelp with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. As a panel member to LawHelp, AGS assesses applications for pro bono assistance by not-for-profit Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander corporations registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 or entities seeking help to register or transfer their incorporation to that Act and wherever possible takes on the work that is assessed as coming within the ambit of LawHelp;
    • providing legal training to government lawyers from different countries on a range of issues, including those in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; and
    • providing legal assistance or assistance with the drafting and delivery of legal community education to public interest clearing houses, community legal centres and other non-profit organisations.

AGS does not undertake pro bono work in circumstances where doing so:

  • may give rise to a conflict between AGS’s duties to a pro bono client and AGS’s duties to its Australian Government agency clients; or 
  • would be against the interests of the Commonwealth.

Recognition

The quality and value of AGS’s pro bono contributions are well recognised. AGS has been the recipient of or finalist for several awards, including being:

  • a recipient of the Arts Law Centre of Australia Pro Bono Award in 2022
  • a recipient of the Arts Law Centre of Australia Pro Bono Award in 2021
  • a recipient of the Arts Law Centre of Australia Pro Bono Award in 2020
  • a recipient the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Pro Bono Award in 2019
  • a recipient of the Arts Law Centre of Australia Pro Bono Award in 2019
  • a recipient of the Arts Law Centre of Australia Pro Bono Award in 2018
  • a recipient of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award in 2014 
  • a finalist, together with the Arts Law Centre of Australia, for the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales Pro Bono Partnership Award in 2012
  • a finalist for the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award in 2011.

Contact

Please contact agsprobono@ags.gov.au to find out more about our pro bono program.