ABA Model Rule 6.1 essentially defines pro bono legal work as (a) free or substantially reduced-rate legal work for nonprofit organizations or persons of limited means, or (b) volunteer work for organizations improving the legal system or access to justice. (http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/rule61.html). The California State Bar Board of Governors uses a similar definition (see the State Bar Website identified below).
The ABA Model Rule guidelines and State Bar of California encourage attorneys to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono work annually. Pro bono work has many potential benefits: giving back to the community, marketing, training, and for some firms recruiting and even compliance. Possibly the best part of doing pro bono work is that it feels great to help those who could not afford necessary legal services.
Pro Bono Resources section of California State Bar web site.
The Attorney Resources section of the California State Bar’s website has a page dedicated to pro bono legal services, with plenty of useful links and information.
LSNC, which provides legal aid to 23 Northern California counties and has been defeating poverty for over 50 years, “envisions a community in which everyone has enough to eat, a safe place to live, and health care is available to all.”
VLSP, which is jointly sponsored by the Sacramento County Bar Association and LSNC, is the main source of civil law-related pro bono assistance in the Sacramento region. Its mission is, “To enhance justice for people of limited means by resolving their civil legal problems through pro bono representation, training volunteers to improve access to the legal system, and educating clients to create greater self-sufficiency.”
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