Index of Pro Bono 2015


I am pleased to share with you the results of the second TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, a benchmark mapping the global scale and trends of the pro bono legal sector.

Compiled with data collected from over 140 law firms - both large and small - and representing 49,000 lawyers in 77 countries, the Index illustrates a story of global growth and commitment to pro bono legal assistance.

Over the last 12 months, respondents donated 2.08 million hours of free legal support. On average, lawyers invested about one week (43 hours) of their time assisting charities, non-profits, social enterprises, and/or individuals free of charge.

The pro bono projects chosen by law firms and legal counsels included those in the areas of Access to Justice (54 percent), Economic Development and Microfinance (40 percent), and Education and Training (40 percent).

Having good data on pro bono is crucial. It allows us to better understand where the industry is going, to set important benchmarks, and to build up support for the practice. By mapping the growth of pro bono geographically and in terms of engagement levels, we believe the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono offers the industry a unique tool to help firms understand how to get the greatest impact from their pro bono work.

The core mission of TrustLaw is to spread the practise of pro bono around the world. Today, TrustLaw operates in over 170 countries, bringing together 500 top law firms and in-house legal teams with 2,000 of the best social impact organisations around the world. In less than five years, TrustLaw has made over 1,600 connections between law firms, high impact NGOs and social entrepreneurs. Some of these connections took place in countries not traditionally known for pro bono legal support: from Somalia to Slovakia, Mongolia to Mauritius, and Swaziland to Saudi Arabia.

It is encouraging to see that a rising number of law firms from even more countries around the world have decided to contribute to the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono. Our hope is that the research will continue to prove useful to those of you providing pro bono legal assistance around the world.


Law firms of varying size, structure, and location were asked to provide information on how they organise their pro bono practice and how much pro bono work they provide in the countries or jurisdictions in which they operate. 141 firms in 77 jurisdictions provided us with information about how they structure their practice and 122 of those submitted detailed data about how much pro bono their lawyers are doing.

All law firms are different and this was reflected in the responses to our Index, with some of the world’s largest firms providing information as well as local firms with just a handful of lawyers. Some respondents have a long and proud tradition of offering pro bono services to the local communities whilst others are new to this space. The range of respondents means the data offers a genuine snapshot of the legal profession and its great variety.

The Index has highlighted a number of recurring factors that are key to developing a successful pro bono practice and we have judged success on one simple metric: how much pro bono is being done. Given the vast cultural and contextual differences globally, average pro bono hours per fee-earner in each jurisdiction and the percentage of lawyers performing 10 or more hours of pro bono are used as the key metrics to create benchmarks and draw comparisons. It is clear this is just one measure of a successful practice and this metric does not take into account the impact of the work undertaken.
Through the Index we have sought to create a robust database that quantifies pro bono hours and engagement by firms and analyses the pro bono infrastructure to help foster the development of the sector. The Index can add to and support the discussion around measuring the impact of pro bono work.

No matter where firms are located and irrespective of their size and resources, lawyers face similar challenges in trying to grow and strengthen their pro bono practices. The work itself can also be very different in different jurisdictions. As such, while the amount of pro bono being done has been tracked, comparisons are not intended to be drawn between countries. Rather, data relating to the amount of pro bono has been grouped into regions, excluding jurisdictions known for a high degree of infrastructure of pro bono (namely England and Wales, the United States and Australia), based on where the lawyers are located. Where there is sufficient data to warrant doing so, country indices have also been created. In providing the data in this way, benchmarks of how much is being done have been generated, helping firms understand how much they are doing compared with other lawyers working in the same context.

The Index is beginning to become a hub for information about trends in the pro bono sector. Building on the findings of last year’s Index, this year we have been able to begin plotting data to demonstrate trends and we anticipate in the future being able to show how these trends shift over time, not only in terms of how much pro bono is being done but also any evolution in the way practices are managed. Both the legal and social sectors are in a transition at the moment with organisations in both industries looking for ways to strengthen their offerings while facing financial pressures on their sources of income. As the pro bono sector responds to the pressures and needs of the wider communities, the Index will be well-placed to reflect this.

For information on the questions that comprised the Index, see here.

For a full PDF of the findings of the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, please click here.