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.
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.
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Justice Connect is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which is committed to furthering the public interest, improving access to justice and protecting human rights. Justice Connect does this by facilitating pro bono legal services to Victorian individuals and organisations in need, and by undertaking law reform, policy work and legal education.
Justice Connect is actively seeking new members and volunteers to join the growing number of law firms, corporate legal departments, individual lawyers and barristers, law schools, students and other individuals who support Justice Connect both financially and through participation in their pro bono legal assistance schemes.
Pro bono work has tangible benefits for law firms, including increased staff satisfaction and morale, assisting with staff retention. Pro bono legal work provides staff with a variety of legal work and the satisfaction derived from using their legal expertise to help the community.
For more information about membership of Justice Connect visit theirpage.
The Victorian Bar Pro Bono Scheme was established in order to assist people whose cases have merit or involve an important principle and which would not otherwise be heard due to a lack of funds to pursue the case.
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.
National Pro Bono Resource Centre has a directory of Pro Bono services in each State.
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 LIV 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.