Attorneys provide pro bono services for a number of reasons. Some just want to help out those in need. Sometimes there are other incentives, like tax deductions. Lawyers are also told that they should offer a small number of pro bono hours each year, and some take this obligation more seriously than others. These attorneys work free of charge, and they usually provide their services most often to those who can’t afford to pay.
There are other options if you fall into that category. You could visit a law school to ask for advice from a law student who is certified to practice under a faculty member. You could find a legal aid society willing to help. Or you could find a pro bono lawyer. When is a pro bono attorney right for your case?
Well, there is no situation in which pro bono services would be inappropriate if you can’t afford the services of a lawyer on your own. There are situations in which pro bono services are more likely. One of these situations is a call for asylum.
If you’re living in a country where you’re persecuted or your life is threatened, then you might ask for asylum in the United States. Many of those seeking asylum are poor or in poverty. Many human rights attorneys and volunteers provide their services free of charge to these individuals. Organizations where these attorneys work will mentor, train, and guide lawyers through the process to ensure that asylum-seekers and their lawyers are fully supported.
Another situation is David versus Goliath. If you’ve been taken advantage of by a big company or corporation, but can’t hope to compete with a huge, expensive team of lawyers attacking you on every front, then you’re more likely to find a law firm whose lawyers will provide you with help on a pro bono basis.
Remember: if a lawyer or firm offer you their services pro bono, they’re doing you a favor. They have to run a business, but they’re giving up significant time and money on your behalf. Make sure you provide them with the information they need to properly help you.