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Pro bono: For the public good but not without its controversies

With National Pro Bono Week just around the corner, Rebecca Wilkinson reflects on the life-changing work accomplished by practitioners

27 October 2015

Pro bono legal service ?has always been part ?of our legal culture. ?Legal pro bono is an ?umbrella term for lawyers who voluntarily provide free legal services to individuals and charities which are otherwise unable to access legal advice. 

In the 1970s the phrase ‘pro bono’ – meaning ‘for the public good’ – became associated primarily with the voluntary legal services connected to the emergence of Law Centres and the adoption by some Citizens Advice Bureaux of a more overt legal orientation. 

In the early 1990s there was further growth in pro bono, mainly in large solicitors’ firms, many of which already did pro bono death penalty work through the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. A diverse culture of pro bono developed across the corporate legal sector. 

The growth of domestic and international pro bono work grew to reflect the interests and skills of an expanding legal population. Lawyers acr...

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