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What is Pro Bono?

What is Pro Bono?

Pro bono isn’t really a common word, unless you are very conversant with legal terms. This Latin phrase simply means “for the good of the public.” Pro bono can be generally regarded as services that are offered for free or at a reduced price to individuals- that is, on a pro bono basis.

Several professionals in the medical, legal, and other fields offer pro bono services to non-profit organizations, universities, etc., or to persons who lack the financial capacity to pay for their services.

Pro bono is prevalent in the legal realm. Lawyers are charged to provide legal services at a rate that is fair. They are also to ensure that the services they provide are for the greater good and not to enrich their pockets alone.

In the United States, according to the American Bar Association ethical rules, all lawyers present in the state are to contribute a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono services each year. Though not all state bar association adhere to the rule, some recommend lesser hours. The goal of pro bono services is to offer legal services to individuals who can’t afford it.

Do you have right to a Pro bono Lawyer?

Of course, you do. Though it depends on the situation you are in. Constitutionally, if you find yourself in certain situation that requires a pro bono lawyer, you can exercise your right and request for one.

Based on the United States constitution, you only have right to a pro bono lawyer if you are charged with a crime that has the likelihood of landing you in jail and if you are so broke that hiring an attorney is an impossibility for you.

If hiring a lawyer is difficult for you due to financial reasons, all you have to do is to make a request to the court pleading that they get an attorney for you at your prime appearance in court (this normally take place 24 hours after your arrest). The court will then provide you with an affidavit to fill out. In the affidavit, you will have to swear that you don’t have the money needed to hire an attorney. After filling the affidavit, the court will then provide you with a pro bono lawyer who will represent you in court. The attorney could either be a public defender or a private lawyer who receives his paycheck from the government.

When else are you eligible for a Pro bono Lawyer

When it comes to cases like civil or non-criminal cases, you can’t request for a pro bono lawyer. But even at that, there still exist some legal assistance and pro bono programs that offer free legal assistance to destitute individuals in situations like that. Programs as such provide legal assistance to individuals whose income are low (about 125 % of the federal poverty level). Sometimes, these programs also offer their assistance to individuals who have earn income that is a little higher. The seniors, disabled individuals, and victims of all sort of abuses are also not left out.

Due to the fact that these programs are community-based and they operate on a low budget, they often lack the capacity to provide help to everyone even if you are eligible. So what they do is that, they take on cases that are quite serious, one that boast of a high success rate. Thus, this denotes that, they have no choice but to turn down several people who require their help.

Pro Bono Clinic

Pro bono programs are meant for individuals who can’t afford a lawyer. This program provided individuals with the opportunity to select volunteer lawyers who are keen to offer them legal advice, or if luck enough, some of the lawyers may be willing to take on the whole case free of charge.

These programs are usually funded by the local or state government and they boast of some of the best legal practitioners. These legal practitioners have their own practice but they offer some of their time to helping the less privileged. 

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