Pro Bono

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Pro Bono

Short for pro bono publico [Latin, For the public good]. The designation given to the free legal work done by an attorney for indigent clients and religious, charitable, and other nonprofit entities.

As members of a profession, lawyers are bound by their ethical rules to charge reasonable rates for their services and to serve the public interest by providing free legal service to indigent persons or to religious, charitable, or other non-profit groups. A lawyer's free legal service to these types of clients is designated as pro bono service.

Lawyers have always donated a portion of their time to pro bono work, but in the United States the demand for legal services from people who cannot afford to hire an attorney has grown since the 1960s. Lawyers previously donated time on an ad hoc basis. The establishment of legal aid organizations to serve indigent persons in the 1960s changed the way attorneys obtained pro bono work. Legal aid attorneys, who were unable to satisfy all the legal needs of poor people, created programs to recruit private attorneys willing to donate some of their time. These programs recruit attorneys and then train them to handle common types of cases.

The American Bar Association (ABA) has become a national leader in the effort to enhance pro bono legal services. The ABA Center for Pro Bono assists ABA members and the legal community in developing and supporting effective pro bono legal services in civil matters as part of the profession's effort to ensure access to Legal Representation and the justice system. The center helps create, design, and implement pro bono programs. It sponsors an annual conference for bar leaders, pro bono program managers, legal service staff, and others involved in the delivery of pro bono legal services to poor people.

State and local bar associations also assist in the creation and maintenance of pro bono programs. Despite these efforts, the need for legal services outstrips the pro bono services provided. State court systems have explored ways to get more lawyers involved in donating their time and skills. In Minnesota, for example, the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers state, "A lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year" (rule 6.1).

Further readings

Coulter, Dolores M. 2001. "The Pro Bono Priority." Michigan Bar Journal 80 (September).

Minnesota Rules of Court. 1996. St. Paul, Minn.: West.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

pro bono

adj. short for pro bono publico, Latin "for the public good," legal work performed by lawyers without pay to help people with legal problems and limited or no funds, or provide legal assistance to organizations involved in social causes such as the environmental, consumers, minorities, youth, battered women and education organizations and charities.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(269.) See Levin, Pro Bono Publico, supra note 232, at 701.
1999; Kellie Isbell & Sarah Sawle, Pro Bono Publico: Voluntary Service and Mandatory Reporting, 15 GEO.
(4.) For a fuller account of this history, see Lerman, supra note 3, at 1250-52; Lubert & Stewart, supra note 1, 1248-51; Isbell and Sawle, Pro Bono Publico." Voluntary Service and Mandatory Reporting, 15 GEO.
Award: Bill Waddell, a partner at Friday Eldredge & Clark in Little Rock and head of its commercial litigation and regulation practice group, was recognized earlier this month as one of five recipients of the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award for 2017 The ABA specifically recognized Waddell's work with the medical-legal partnership that supports the work of the Mid-Delta Health Clinic in Clarendon.
Rickles has been chosen as the recipient of this year's Pro Bono Publico Award for what the association described as "her volunteer efforts in criminal, family and employment law, especially her numerous outreach efforts to fulfill the legal needs of Worcester's homeless population."
That rule now states, "A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year." Why is the figure 50 in parentheses?
Van Nortwick received the ABA Pro Bono Publico Award in 1995 and 10 years later was the first recipient of the Florida Supreme Court Distinguished Judicial Service Award.
Rickles, a Worcester solo practitioner, will receive the Pro Bono Publico Award for her volunteer efforts in criminal, family and employment law, and for fulfilling the legal needs of Worcester's homeless population.
Florida Bar Foundation Executive Director Bruce Blackwell, who received the ABA's 2014 Pro Bono Publico Award, came to the podium and said: "I am thrilled that the Tallahassee Bar has done this, because Thunderdome is a project I believe can be replicated around the state of Florida and hopefully beyond the limits of Florida."
Manning will be given the Pro Bono Publico Award during the association's Access to Justice Awards luncheon tomorrow at the John F.