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.