Lawyers make false claims of working ‘pro bono’

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Lawyers make false claims of working ‘pro bono’

We often see in the news or read in media that this or that lawyer worked ‘pro bono’. Pro bono means that a lawyer did some legal work without being paid. Lawyers often represent disadvantaged people who otherwise would not have proper legal representation. This is an honorable deed that suppose to foster social responsibility among legal profession.

However, not all work claimed being pro bono is as such. Legal work cannot be claimed as pro bono if it benefits the lawyer financially directly or indirectly.

For example. Some not so prominent suburban lawyer works 4 hours per week at local women’s shelter without charging any fee. He or she does not advertise the name of the firm they work for and does not recruit the clients. There is no exposure in the media in respect to the work done at the shelter. This is pro bono.

Another example. A commercial lawyer takes up the the case or cases that have significant exposure in the media. He or she does not charge for that work. However, the exposure places the lawyer in the spotlight, maintaining his or her position of prominence. The media refers to him or her as ‘celebrity’, ‘prominent’ etc. This lawyer is often featured in national press because of the case he or she manages ‘pro bono’. Naturally, such exposure provides some business opportunities. Status of ‘prominent lawyer’ provides access to more clients and justify the lawyer charging higher fees for his or her services. Honest person would not claim working pro bono in this case. Honest lawyer would publicly declare that he or she indirectly benefit from managing these cases even without charging the fee.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m not sure that I understand, could you cite an actual case where some attorney worked without payment from the client, but but actually benefited from doing so? How so? Is it considered underhanded or actually illegal to do so?

    • Yes, there is a prominent commercial lawyer in Australia who gained a lot of ‘popularity’ by working on refugee cases ‘pro bono’. Everyone knows who he is, but I cannot say the name for legal reasons.

      No, it is not illegal, just unethical to claim being a legal Mother Theresa without disclosing the benefits deriving from doing so.

      • So just to pick some fictitious name, let’s say JuliAnne was a famous lawyer someplace and she represented terrorists pro Bono and JuliAnnes fame came from getting these Muslim terrorists off for free and because of his/her fame for doing it, it charged its other terrorist friends…I mean “clients” more money per hour because of this fame then it is unethical. Does doing unethical things carry any penalties do doing something illegal….I mean “unethical”. If not, should there be some type of penalty for unethical behaviour?
        What’s the legal definitions of illegal vs. unethical?
        Either way an attorney that does either, is still a scumbag POS, right or no?
        Would JuliAnne be guilty of treason against the state because JuliAnne acted in her own best interest and contrary to the proper welfare of his/her country? Wouldn’t someone acting in this manner in a country under Sharia Law be thrown off a rooftop?

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