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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Law Access coordinates the giving of free, reduced fee, cost recovered or fixed fee legal advice or representation by the legal profession. The service is targeted at those people in the community in genuine need of legal assistance who are unable to afford the usual rates charged and are unable to obtain Legal Aid or assistance from a community legal centre.
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.
The West Australian Bar Assicatioin Bar has an informal program of seeking members' assistance in appropriate cases.
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.
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.
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.