Pro bono publico (English: for the public good; usually shortened to pro bono) is a Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee as a public service. Unlike traditional volunteerism, it is service that uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.
Pro Bono Publico is also used in the United Kingdom to describe the central motivation of large organizations such as the National Health Service, and various NGOs, which exist "for the public good", rather than for shareholder profit.
Written instrument that serves to confirm or witness (vouch) for some fact such as a transaction. Commonly, a voucher is a document that shows goods have bought or services have been rendered, authorizes payment, and indicates the ledger account(s) in which these transactions have to be recorded.
In United States
Lawyers in the United States are recommended under American Bar Association (ABA) ethical rules to contribute at least fifty hours of pro bono service per year(s). Some state bar associations, however, may recommend fewer hours. Rule 6.1 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct strongly encourages lawyers to aspire to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service each year and quantifies the minimal financial contributions that lawyers should aspire to make to organizations providing legal services to the poor and underserved.
The Chief Judge of New York has also instituted a requirement that applicants who plan to be admitted in 2015 and onward must complete fifty hours of pro bono service in order to qualify. All attorneys who register must report their voluntary pro bono hours and/or voluntary contributions.
The ABA has conducted three national surveys of pro bono service: one released in August 2005, the second in February 2009, and the third in March 2013.
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and its project, the Center for Pro Bono, are a national source of information, resources and assistance to support, facilitate, and expand the delivery of pro bono legal help. The ABA Standing Committee also sponsors Pro Bono Week during the week of October 23–29. The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel and Section of Litigation jointly sponsor the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which delivers pro bono legal assistance to enlisted, active-duty military personnel.
In an October 2007 press conference reported in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, the law student group Building a Better Legal Profession released its first annual ranking of top law firms by average billable hours, pro bono participation, and demographic diversity. The report found that most large firms fall short of their pro bono targets. The group has sent the information to top law schools around the country, encouraging students to take this data into account when choosing where to work after graduation.