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Pro Bono Legal Aid and Attorneys

The pro bono term generally applies to free services offered by law professionals to low income and poverty-stricken clients, charitable organizations, or non-profit groups. The term "pro bono" is short for pro bono public and translates to "for the public good.” Pro bono services can somewhat be understood as voluntary practices, but they encompasses a lot more. The IRS treats pro bono services differently than voluntary services and uses separate guidelines to determine how to deduct associated costs and expenses for each. The demand for free of cost lawyer services outweighed the availability of pro bono work.

Bearing this in mind, the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct recommends lawyers provide legal services to those unable to pay. In some states, a lawyer bears a professional responsibility to render a certain number of hours of pro bono legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should ensure their legal service is provided to people of unlimited means, charities, civic organizations, religious organizations etc. In addition, pro bono attorneys can voluntarily contribute financially to organizations that provide legal services to low income people or those who do not have any means to earn an income. Pro bono services can be availed by an individual whose combined household income is less than 125% of poverty level.

Difference Between Pro Bono Lawyers and Contingency Lawyers

Pro bono lawyers are not to be confused with contingency lawyers. Pro bono attorneys are free of charge regardless of the outcome of their service. While contingency lawyers may not require an upfront payment but depending on the outcome of the case, they charge clients eventually. Meaning, if their clients win their cases, they’ll then be required to pay lawyer fees.  No cost legal aid may be provided by attorneys practicing pro bono. Learn about some types of pro bono legal services.

Some Types of Pro Bono Services

  • Bankruptcy Pro Bono Legal Aid: A client needs to consider many factors when deciding whether to file bankruptcy. Their attorney plays the role to guide them and help them understand the factors that are relevant in their specific financial situation. The attorney will review with the client the legal issues that arise in the bankruptcy process. They will also discuss the automatic stay in bankruptcy that prevents collection efforts against the debtor while the bankruptcy case is pending. The discussion touches on all aspects including exemptions, property that a debtor can remove from the bankruptcy estate and use to assist themself start fresh.

  • Divorce Pro Bono Legal Aid: Divorce pro bono services can be accessed through federally funded programs and subsidized legal services for low income people. Your local or state bar association can point you in the right direction to get these services from. Divorce pro bono, as usual, is typically granted to those who are in need or face certain circumstances that render them dependent on free legal aid services. 

  • DUI Pro Bono Legal Aid: Driving under the influence is treated as a criminal act and attorneys who represent criminal law cases without charging their clients are public defenders. If a person’s income meets the local requirements for government-funded legal service, they can seek a public defender. The procedure may require proof of income and other information. Finding a pro bono DUI lawyer may be difficult. But a pro bono lawyer can help those charged with DUI or DWI seek legal help from other sources by financially supporting them.

  • Family Pro Bono Legal Aid: Family pro bono work deals with bankruptcy, child custody, divorce, complex issues, child support, etc. Clients may be eligible for legal representation if they’re struggling with any family related issue or any the problems mentioned above. Several volunteers and staff attorneys may be able to help clients if they the meet federal low-income criteria. Pro bono lawyers work with clients through a step by step process that ensures all documentation and information is readily complied and used to help make their cases stronger. 

  • Personal Injury Pro Bono Legal Aid: In a personal injury pro bono case, a client can take actions against the culprit person, people, or companies at fault by filing a suit against them. All wrongfully injured who cannot afford legal fees, have access to the legal representation through pro bono work. This even applies to victims who’ve been wrongfully killed. The client can also opt for an out of court settlement, which requires a lawyer to mediate or negotiate for their client and also to design the terms and conditions for.