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Preventing Problems In Pro Bono Representations

Source: CNA PROfessional Counsel

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The Latin term “Pro Bono” literally translates to “for the good.”  Although state and bar associations have varying criteria for what constitutes pro bono work, it is generally understood to refer to legal services performed free of charge for the public good, often on behalf of individuals or organizations of limited means.

Pro bono work can enrich a lawyer’s practice and prove beneficial for law firms.  All lawyers, especially those newer to the profession, can gain knowledge and experience by handling pro bono matters that involve substantive legal work.  The satisfaction of contributing to the public good and improving the lives of clients has its own humanitarian rewards that are impossible to quantify.  Law firms encourage pro bono work in order to:

  • Train their associates.
  • Recruit law students and other lawyers.
  • Enhance their own public reputation by giving back to their communities.
  • Develop business.

More corporate clients are requiring substantive responses from law firms regarding their pro bono programs on Requests for Proposals and Requests for Information.  While no states currently require their attorneys to perform pro bono work, several states have adopted American Bar Association Model Rule 6.1, which encourages lawyers to devote at least 50 hours per year to providing legal services to those clients of limited means.

While pro bono work can be a positive experience for lawyers and law firms, it remains the practice of law and thus has inherent risk.  Problems often occur when lawyers and law firms take an inattentive approach to pro bono matters, failing to dedicate the attention and care that would be given to a paying client.   READ MORE >

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