Pro Bono representation is when an attorney provides legal representation at no cost to the client. The client, however, is responsible for court fees and the actual costs of the case beyond the legal representation. It is a volunteer contribution to by an attorney of his/her legal knowledge, skills, and abilities. Additionally, beyond the attorney's time commitment, the attorney often utilizes office resources, including staff resources, to provide the legal representation. A request for the services of a lawyer for free is asking for a charitable contribution.
There are two common misconceptions about pro bono legal services. First, that attorneys are required to provide pro bono legal representation. In Mississippi attorneys are encouraged, though not required, per the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct to provide at least twenty (20) hours of pro bono service annually. Second, if I do not have money that the attorney will handle my case for free. Though in some cases, such as in cases involving Constitutional rights, like felony criminal cases and termination of parental rights cases, an individual is provided an attorney at no cost if the individual cannot afford an attorney. The court appoints an attorney which is paid by the county or State. However, private attorneys are not required to handle the case without compensation.
Pro bono legal service is generally done by a self-imposed moral or ethical obligation of legal professionals. Oftentimes attorneys seek to handle pro bono work which serves the community. This is why many attorneys handle cases involving child abuse, domestic violence, or potentially vulnerable populations, such as veterans, given that without justice these cases harm our society as a whole.
When you ask for pro bono representation the attorney must weigh the amount of work required in the case against the resources or options which may be available elsewhere. Given that it can be difficult to evaluate the merits of whether a case should be handled on a pro bono basis, there are several legal services organizations which have been created. Many attorneys only accept pro bono cases through these legal services organizations.
Evans Law Firm, PLLC always exceeds the annual pro bono aspiration of twenty (20) hours of pro bono representation as set by the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct. However, like many other lawyers, our office often works with legal services organizations, such as the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer's Project (MVLP), Mississippi Center for Legal Services, or North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, or via pro bono court appointments, for pro bono service.
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