“Without payment” or “free of charge” are the words that most attorneys commonly associate with pro bono work. Yet, pro bono is short for the Latin phrase pro bono publico, which means “for the public good.” Rather than considering pro bono work based on how it impacts a firm’s bottom line, young lawyers have the opportunity to reshape the meaning of the commonly used term to place a bigger emphasis on the important aid an attorney is able to provide through this kind of work.
While pro bono work may not always be the most glamorous, it’s often notably impactful on one’s career. As a young lawyer, I have asked seasoned lawyers about some of the most significant moments of their career, and many have noted the pro bono work they have done. In the family law field, pro bono work can illuminate for attorneys what it means to represent a client in dire need of protection and stability in their daily lives.