LEGAL SERVICES —
PRO BONO MODEL
323. Hon PETER COLLIER to
the Leader of the House representing the Attorney General:
I ask this question on behalf of Hon
Michael Mischin, who is away on urgent parliamentary business.
I refer to the Attorney General's
response to my question without notice dated 31 March regarding the requirement
that from 1 July 2020, all law firms supplying legal services for government
departments and agencies will be required to provide at least 10 per cent of
the value of that work pro bono for approved causes.
(1) Noting the
support of the Law Society of WA and the vast majority of law firms, can the
Attorney General guarantee that the cost of private sector legal services to
government will not increase to absorb this mandated charitable work?
(2) Will legal
counsel briefed by the Director of Public Prosecutions and Legal Aid WA who are
not at the independent bar be required to provide this pro bono service?
(3) Will briefing
fees paid by government agencies to counsel who are not at the independent bar
be increased to absorb the value of the mandated pro bono work?
mechanisms is the Attorney General putting in place to ensure that the mandated
pro bono work is performed by practitioners who have the aptitude and interest
to perform that work?
Hon SUE ELLERY replied:
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question.
(1) As previously
indicated in answer to question without notice 277, law firms presently engaged
by the State Solicitor's Office
charge at hourly rates fixed by the State Solicitor—rates that are
generally reviewed every two years. Work is underway for all rates being
charged by private sector firms to government departments and agencies to be
captured in a single common user agreement, with those rates being fixed
following discussion with the State Solicitor.
(3) Not applicable.
(4) Rule 7(f) of
the Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010, which apply to all practitioners,
requires that a practitioner must not accept
an engagement that is beyond that practitioner's competence.
Consequently, the Attorney General does not need to put in place any
measures to ensure that practitioners have the aptitude for the work. Whether a practitioner might be interested in the
work is a matter for the practitioner. If they do not want to undertake
any pro bono work, that is a matter for them. However, that would mean that
they may not undertake any government work.