The Wikipedia definition is:
"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."
A lot of it is very informal and given quietly by individual solicitors as and when they are able. As overheads of a legal practice are typically 70% of gross income, this involves not only giving up their own time and opportunity to make a living but also a contribution of these resources.
Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House (QPILCH) is a legal referral and service organisation. They refer civil law cases that meet their guidelines to firms and barristers for free legal assistance through 3 referral services:
They also provide direct services through legal staff and volunteers in particular areas, currently:
QPILCH also manages the pro bono schemes of the Queensland Law Society and the Bar Association of Queensland.
Please give us feedback about your experiences using Foolkit and ideas for improvements.
The QLS and BAQ Pro Bono Schemes were established to coordinate and target pro bono referrals in civil matters for people experiencing hardship. The schemes are is managed by QPILCH on their behalf. This is funded by the Queensland Attorney-General from the Legal Practitioner Interest On Trust Accounts Fund and by the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland.
Any assistance from any of these schemes is entirely at the discretion of these organisations and their participating members.
Mentoring can be a very rewarding experience for both the student / young lawyer and the mentor. Even just a monthly chat or phone call can be very helpful.
If you would like to volunteer to mentor a young lawyer then contact the Law Society or Women Lawyers Association.
A number of the Universities also welcome mentors for their students, into work experience (there is no obligation for this) and into their careers.
The organisations for people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups highly value mentoring.
National Pro Bono Resource Centre has a directory of Pro Bono services in each State.
A warning from the wise. Do not relax your professional standards, take shortcuts or fail to take all you usual risk management procedures just because you are acting pro bono.
You undertake the same level of professional risk as you do with paying clients.
Some clients are grateful for your generosity. Others are less appreciative. Any one of them can turn on you if they don't get what they want.
The National Pro Bono Resource Centre is an independent organisation that supports and promotes pro bono legal services in Australia.
Pro Bono and Profit Are Not at Odds - by the ABA.
Another way that lawyers can contribute their skills is by joining local community groups.