What Does Pro Bono Mean?
The term 'Pro Bono is derived from the Latin word which means "For the Public
Good". As we are aware of the fact that the privileged and the underprivileged
are the two inseparable hands of every society. Though the gates of the law are
open for every class the real fact is that justice is not accessible to the
underprivileged ones due to the many reasons and money is the major problem
Like M.K Gandhi said "there is enough resource for everyone's needs
but not greed" in contrast nowadays justice is accessible to those who can
afford it not to those who are in need. So basically, Pro bono is the way
through which lawyers, NGOs, and other legal institutes like nowadays Law
schools through their law students try to give legal aid to the underprivileged
ones at zero-cost so that justice should reach all classes.
Emergence Of Pro Bono Activities
Initially, the free legal aid activity was first observed in America during the
pre-independence period around in the 1770s when Adam fought the case of British
soldiers at Pro Bono for which he had been criticized by their countrymen. Then
after getting independence in 1776 from the USA gradually the free legal
services to no needy ones started gaining momentum which later had been adopted
by many countries.
Pro Bono Activities In Different Countries
After several years the USA through article 6.1 of the New York Rules of
Professional Conduct recommended that at least 50 hours of pro bono services per
year by every lawyer. In South Korea, it is required to perform pro bono service
for at least 30 hours per year which can be reduced by the local bar to 20
hours. Lawyers can also be exempt from it just by giving a good reason along
with the payment of 17-26USD. And in the UK, two main organizations are working
for free legal aid.
Firstly, Law Works (the operating name of the Solicitors Pro
Bono Group) is national charity work. Secondly, 'Advocates for International
Development' for free legal aid in sustainable development cases.
Pro Bono In India
Though, it is constitutionally given under article 39E for the state to make
sure equal justice to all still India has been far away from the pro bono
activities taken by many developed countries like the USA, UK, South Korea, etc.
Apart from the constitutional guidelines government has also formed a new act
that is Legal Service Authority Act 1987. This act allows the center and state
governments to set up free legal aid authority at the center, state, and
But the enrolment of the lawyers under it remained very low because of the
- Hectic Schedule:
Due to a heavy workload and the shortest time many advocates escaped
themselves to join in it.
- Lack of recognition:
Many advocates escaped themselves from pro bono because their hard work in
most cases does not receive any appreciation.
For new struggling lawyers without earning a single penny is difficult to
perform pro bono work.
Reforms In Pro Bono Service
Key Objectives Of PB Club:
- Pro Bono Legal Service program which is ' Nyaya Bandu' was launched by Mr.
Ravi Shankar Prasad( Former Minister of Law and Justice) in April 2017. It aims
to reach every marginalized or needy one through the means of an app and to
bring all the members of the pro bono service to one place.
- To further enhance the service of pro bono Department of Justice reached
25 HCs requesting them to set up an integrated panel of pro bono lawyers. By
31st 2020 502 advocates have been registered as naysay band under 14 HCs.
- After taking several steps the number of participants was not
satisfactory due to a lack of time with the advocates. So to cope with this
Department of Justice decided to allow law students to assist pro bono
advocates. Then in June 2020, a module of Pro Bono Club was designed. Law
School has to pass 3 criteria to get into it. After which DOJ has
restructured the PB Club document for the FY
2021-21 after observing the covid situation to broader the concept of PB Club in
Pan India scheme to access to justice titled " Designing Innovative Solutions
And Holistic Access to Justice(DISHA)".
Scope of PB CLUB:
- To improve the efficiency in pro bono services by assisting advocates
- To make law students responsible citizens.
Composition of PB Club:
- A total of 80 new students will join the PB Club by the FY
2021-2026 under the DISHA scheme. In 2020-21 (29) have joined and 20 are
planning to join in 2021-22 from Tier-I, Tier-II, and Tier-III.
- To maintain PB Club as a separate activity in law school.
- In each law school PB Club is headed by full-time faculty in
charge, Student Committee (consist of 10 students selected by faculty im-charge)
- Students selected must be of 2nd – 5th year( in the 5-year course) or
2nd – 3rd year(in the 3-year course). And selected students called
Pro Bono Associates(PBA).
Activities To Be Carried Out By Pro Bono Associates (PBAs)
Why does the Pro Bono Scheme still lack?
- Litigation Assistance:
Under the guidance of the faculty in charge the PB
Club can decide the type of legal assistance. The number of cases assigned
should according to his year in law school, Number of PBAs supporting Pro Bono
advocates under Nyay Bnadu High court Panel, No. of hours to be spent by PBAs,
No. of a session organized by the law school in training advocates/ appellants
in joining Nyay Bandu app, etc.
- Community Care Legal Assistance (CCLA):
- Adoption of at least two villages
- Number of materials prepared to encourage the Nayay Bandhu
- Number of banners, posters, and activities presented in the law school
- Number of field visits taken by PBAs
- Research, Documentation, and Reporting:
- Summaries of the cases taken by PB Club.
- Quarterly published PB Club Newspaper.
- Submission of Monthly and Bi-Monthly reports of PB Club on the
Pro Bono Website.
- Promote Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism:
- Types on which PBAs support Mediation
- Organisation of client counseling and client interviewing
competition for PBAs.
- Limited Participation of Law school:
At this point, DOJ's focus is only on the NLUs and Central Universities and neglects other Law schools. As almost all
NLUs environment is of corporate nature that is why their students escape
themselves to indulge in litigation activities.
- Low spirit shown by advocates to these cases:
Many pro bono advocates show low interest or say put fewer efforts into
these cases due to lack of recognition.
- Pro Bono scheme failed to reach mass:
Even after taking measures still, more people have no legal assistance.
So after evaluating the pro bono scheme and its lack-ness we conclude by saying
that DOJs should shift their focus from just NLUs and Central Universities to
State Universities where many students themselves come from such backgrounds who
suffered due to non-availability of pro bono services. And DOJ's must recognize
the work of the PB advocates by giving them awards, cash prizes, etc. and last
new steps must be taken to reach the grass-root level of the problem of pro bono
- History of Lawyers of Pro Bono Services available at https://law.rwu.edu/library/blog/history-lawyer-pro-bono-services
- Pro Bono available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_bono
- DOJs Pro Bono Scheme available at - https://www.probono-doj.in/static/pdf/Revised%20SOP%20on%20PRO%20BONO%20CLUBS%20at%20Law%20Schools.pdf
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