A report released today articulates the contribution that lawyers make to the community and addresses misconceptions about the profession.
The Lawyer Project Report, prepared by the Law Council of Australia, draws on existing literature, analysis and case studies to illustrate the importance of the Australian legal profession and demonstrates, for the benefit of the Australian public, the often ‘hidden’ contribution that lawyers make to society through an economic, social and political lens.
“Every day I speak with lawyers who are making a real difference in the lives of Australians without expecting any recognition,” Law Council of Australia President Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said. “As a profession we have been very reticent to promote the contribution we make and I think the result is that many people either have a limited understanding of all that my colleagues do on behalf of clients and the community, or actually believe some of the false stereotyping we are subjected to.
“Even if we just look at the direct employment and economic benefits provided by the legal profession, it is immense. Over 100,000 Australians are employed within the legal sector and the total market size of the legal services sector is estimated to be approximately $23 billion.
“This stimulates our economy and assists local communities through payment of taxes and rates; commercial leases and investment; and lawyers’, paralegals’ and administrative staff salaries help support families, pay mortgages or rent, and buy goods and services from other Australian businesses.
“But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The democracy, legal protections and economic foundations that make us the ‘lucky country’ would not exist without the legal profession. Through its integral role in the administration of justice, the legal profession is vital to the health of Australian society.”
In 2020-21, Australian lawyers provided 641,965.75 hours of pro bono work, according to the latest National Pro Bono Centre report. This is over 16% more pro bono hours than in 2019-20.
“Australians pull together to help one another in times of crisis, and lawyers are a critical part of our nation’s disaster response – as evidenced most recently during COVID,” Dr Brasch said. “Statistics from the early days of this public health crisis found 49% of Australian businesses relied upon external advisors, including lawyers, in the face of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“We could safely assume this figure would now be even greater. In addition, lawyers have assisted individuals with matters ranging from insurance, family law and family violence, through to tenancy and housing and social security.
“As the Lawyer Project Report concludes – lawyers play a vital role in well-functioning societies and their often hidden contributions make the profession a unique and integral part of the community.”
Read the report.