This year Index submissions were received from 33 law firms with 45 offices in 17 countries across Africa and the Middle East. The findings from these firms show that lawyers in the region provided an average of 26.0 hours of pro bono legal assistance each over the past year, a decrease of nearly 15 percent from last year’s finding of 30.4 hours. The percentage of fee earners doing ten or more hours of pro bono also decreased slightly, from 42.7 percent last year to 35.5 percent this year.
The number of firms with offices in Africa and the Middle East participating in the Index increased from 25 last year to 33 this year. The latest findings suggest mixed trends in partner engagement in pro bono. The average number of hours undertaken by partners was 17.1, a slight decrease from the 18.5 hours reported last year. However, the percentage of partners contributing any time to pro bono work increased from 40.4 percent reported in last year’s Index to 44.4 percent in 2016.
As law firms recognise the future fee-paying potential of social enterprises and small-to-medium-sized enterprises in the region, they are increasingly establishing their own in-house social enterprise practices. This represents an important area of potential growth in pro bono work across south and east Africa, as well as one that stands to significantly influence the dynamics of law firm engagement with pro bono beneficiaries. As law firms build their pro bono practices, they are becoming more selective with regard to which causes and organisations they support and are beginning to engage directly with client organisations, as opposed to relying on the few pro bono clearinghouses active in the region to mediate such relationships.
For a PDF of the full Africa & Middle East findings, please see here.