“Pro bono publico,” commonly known as merely “pro bono,” is the rendering of free or discounted professional services for the indigent (Merriam-Webster.com, n.d.). Derived from its Latin origin, the phrase is directly translated as “for the public good.” While there are variations of pro bono services such as in architecture, business consultations, and entrepreneurship, it is particularly notable in the legal field, where lawyers and firms offer their services to those who require it but lack the resources to obtain it.
Providing legal counsel to those who cannot afford it began in the early fifteenth century, where appointment of an attorney for court proceedings was made by jurists who deemed it necessary. Its beginnings stemmed from the need to provide equal access to legal services, as well as the obligation of lawyers to ascertain that those services are made available (Rhode, 1999). Before that reform, injustice was prevalent due to the lack of professional representation for defendants who do not have the means to retain an attorney. Even when the movement to provide legal counsel to the indigent had already begun, many defendants still remained unrepresented in court; the problem was only addressed during the mid-twentieth century, when the right for a defendant to have an attorney regardless of any financial situation was established (Coir, 2011). That established right eventually became the springboard that led to what is now commonly known as pro bono work. In 1998, the American Bar Association (ABA) released its Model Rules of Conduct to the public, in which Rule 6.1 states that:
“A lawyer should aspire to render at least fifty hours of pro bono publico legal services per year, primarily to persons of limited means, or to organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of such persons.”
Because of the ABA's recommendation, as well as the benefits that pro bono provides to both the beneficiary and the benefactor,...
References: Coir, M. (2011). Pro Bono and Access to Justice in America. Michigan Bar Journal, October, 54-55. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.michbar.org/journal/pdf/pdf4article1916.pdf
Lapp, K., & Shabecoff, A. (n.d.). An Introduction to Pro Bono Opportunities in the Law Firm Setting. Pro Bono Guide, 1st ed., 5-6. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/careers/opia/toolkit/guides/documents/guide-pro-bono.pdf
Latham & Watkins. (2012). A Survey of Pro Bono Practices and Opportunities in 71 Jurisdictions. Latham and Watkins, February. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.probonoinst.org/wpps/wp-content/uploads/a-survey-of-pro-bono-practices-and-opportunities-in-71-jurisdiction-2012.pdf
Pro bono - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pro%20bono
Rhode, D. (1999). Cultures of Commitment: Pro Bono for Lawyers and Law Students. Fordham Law Review, 67(5), 2418. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3566&context=flr
The American Bar Association (2009). A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America 's Lawyers. Supporting Justice II, February, 1. Retrieved June 18, 2013, fro ' http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/2011_build/probono_public_service/report_2011.authcheckdam.pdf
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