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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pro bono publico (usually shortened to pro bono) is a phrase derived from Latin meaning "for the public good". The term is generally used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as a public service. It is common in the legal profession and is increasingly seen in marketing, technology, and strategy consulting firms. Pro bono service, unlike traditional volunteerism, uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.

Pro bono publico is also used in the United Kingdom to describe the central motivation of large organizations such as the BBC, the National Health Service, and various other NGOs, which exist "for the public good", rather than for shareholder profit.


Pro bono legal counsel

Pro bono legal counsel may assist an individual or group on a legal case by filing government applications or petitions. A judge may occasionally determine that the loser should compensate a winning pro bono counsel.


United States

Lawyers in the United States are recommended under American Bar Association (ABA) ethical rules to contribute at least fifty hours of pro bono service per year.[1] Some state bar associations, however, may recommend fewer hours. The New York State Bar Association, for example, recommends just twenty hours of pro bono service annually,[2] while the New York City Bar promulgates the same recommendation as the ABA.[3] The ABA has conducted two national surveys of pro bono service: one released in August 2005[4] and the other in February 2009. [5]

The ABA Standing Committee and its project, the Center for Pro Bono, are a national source of information, resources and assistance to support, facilitate, and expand the delivery of pro bono legal help.[6] The ABA Standing Committee also sponsors Pro Bono Week during the week of October 25th-31st.[7] [8]

In an October 2007 press conference reported in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, the law student group Building a Better Legal Profession released its first annual ranking of top law firms by average billable hours, pro bono participation, and demographic diversity.[9][10] The report found that most large firms fall short of their pro bono targets.[11] The group has sent the information to top law schools around the country, encouraging students to take this data into account when choosing where to work after graduation.[12] As more students choose where to work based on the firms' rankings, firms face an increasing market pressure to increase their commitment to pro bono work in order to attract top recruits.[13]

United Kingdom

Many UK law firms and law schools have celebrated an annual Pro Bono Week—which encourages lawyers to offer pro bono publico services and increases general awareness of pro bono service since 2002.[14][15]

See also


  1. ^ "ABA Model Rule 6.1 Voluntary Pro Bono Service." Pro Bono and Public Service. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  2. ^ "NYSBA | Pro bono defined", Pro Bono Affairs. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  3. ^ "New York City Bar Association Releases Statement of Pro Bono Principles." Retrieved 2 June 2007.[1]
  4. ^ "Supporting Justice: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers"
  5. ^ "Supporting Justice II: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America's Lawyers Pro Bono" [ ]
  6. ^
  7. ^ [2]News release
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Amir Efrati, You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution, Take II, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2007.
  10. ^ Adam Liptak, In Students’ Eyes, Look-Alike Lawyers Don’t Make the Grade, New York Times, October 29, 2007,
  11. ^ Thomas Adcock & Zusha Elinson, Student Group Grades Firms on Diversity, Pro Bono Work, New York Law Journal, October 19, 2007,
  12. ^ Henry Weinstein, Big L.A. law firms score low on diversity survey: The numbers of female, black, Latino, Asian and gay partners and associates lag significantly behind their representation in the city's population, according to a study, Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2007,,1,661263.story?coll=la-headlines-california
  13. ^ Linda Hershman, Perfect Information for Law Students, The New Republic, October 23, 2007,
  14. ^ Dyer, Clare. "Win or lose, no fee: pro bono week promotes free legal services." Pro Bono work. The Guardian. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  15. ^ Dowell, Katy. "Attorney General sets up global pro bono database." Pro bono week. The Lawyer. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2008.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary






Abbreviated from Latin Pro bono publico for the public good


pro bono (not comparable)

pro bono

not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. (law) done without fee, generally for clients of humble means
    The firm currently has about half a dozen pro bono cases at any one time.


pro bono (not comparable)

pro bono

not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. In a manner without fee.
    After he retired, he offered pro bono representation from time to time.

Simple English

Pro bono is a Latin phrase meaning "for [the] good", that is used to mean that a legal professional (lawyer) who would otherwise be paid money for his work, works without being paid, for the benefit of society, typically on behalf of a person or organization who cannot pay for some reason, such as poverty.


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