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In Law, What Is Pro Bono?

Litigation firms charge a certain amount to their clients when handling a civil or criminal suit. The price set by each litigation firm is meant to cover the expenses incurred by the associate in processing a case. Such expenses may include a service fee, documentation costs, transportation costs, and the like. This fee comes in the form of billable hours, the amount of hours that were spent on the case.

However, there are certain instances when a litigation firm or a lawyer may take on a case without seeking payment. Such cases are referred to as pro bono publico, or pro bono for short. The Latin phrase translates to “for the public good”, and refers to lawyers or litigation firms who voluntarily undertake a legal case without pay as a means of public service. Thus, those who undertake pro bono work do so for the public good.

Lawyers may take a case pro bono for a variety of reasons, most of which may include a personal belief in the cause or a relation to the individual involved. As much as pro bono legal counsel is voluntary, the American Bar Association strongly recommends that lawyers provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal counsel annually.

A lawyer who provides pro bono legal counsel may be paid in the end if the client he or she is representing wins. This compensation may be recommended by the judge, or a judge may move to have the winning counsel compensate a pro bono lawyer.

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