What Is, and What Isn’t Pro Bono?

What Is, and What Isn’t Pro Bono?

What Is, and What Isn’t Pro Bono? 150 150 LegalEase Solutions

The need for legal services among the poor is overwhelming. According to an American Bar Association study, at least 40% of low and moderate-income households experience a legal problem each year. Yet studies show that the collective civil legal aid effort is meeting only about 20% of the legal needs of low-income people.

-Pro Bono Net [1]

With great power definitely comes great responsibility. Being able to practice law is a privilege awarded to a select group of individuals. Along with the privilege of being a lawyer, they are also bound by rule and responsibility to provide pro bono services. [2] Legal pro bono is defined as legal service that is offered to people who cannot afford the costs, and to charitable, religious, civic, and/or community organizations.

The American Bar Association mandates that lawyers should engage in a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono publico work every year. This rule recognizes the fact that only lawyers can secure access to justice for deserving people. It is up to the lawyer to dedicate more hours if they can spare the time, energy, and resources for it.

Legal pro bono is not just relegated to providing legal aid for people who cannot afford the costs. Pro bono covers a whole range of legal services including legal counseling, legal clinics, and provision of free legal support to organizations.

What work is classified as pro bono?

  • Offering free legal advice, on matters related to copyright laws, trademark laws, and similar, to a non-profit organization.
  • Educating and informing pro bono lawyers on practice areas pertaining to pro bono work.
  • Representation of low-income clients in cases such as family law.
  • Providing monetary aid to legal clinics which serve low-income clients with pro bono work.

What work is not pro bono?

  • Services offered at discounted rates, since pro bono is provided free of cost.
  • Going to Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes.
  • Hosting or attending fundraising events for organizations.
  • Providing legal advice to friends and family that are not indigent. [3]


  1. https://www.probono.net
  2. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pro_bono/
  3. https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/what-work-pro-bono
  4. https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-pro-bono-legal-service-providers

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