pro bono

\ ˌprō-ˈbō-(ˌ)nō \

Definition of pro bono 

: being, involving, or doing professional and especially legal work donated especially for the public good pro bono work

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Other words from pro bono

pro bono adverb

Did You Know?

In Latin, pro bono publico means "for the public good;" in English we generally shorten the phrase to pro bono. Donating free legal help to those who need it has long been a practice of American law firms; the American Bar Association actually recommends that all lawyers donate 50 hours a year. Pro bono work is sometimes donated by nonlegal firms as well. For example, an advertising firm might produce a 60-second video for an environmental or educational organization, or a strategic-planning firm might prepare a start-up plan for a charity that funds shelters for battered women.

Examples of pro bono in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Private Investigator Dawn Kendricks, a former Huntsville, Alabama police officer, has taken on Jennifer’s case pro bono. Juliet Muir, NBC News, "Alabama family searching for Jennifer Marshell White 22 days after disappearance," 30 Apr. 2018 Painter’s pro bono work continued for several years as the city pushed a reluctant Caltrans to embrace the concept of a parkway. John King,, "Michael Painter, who conceived Presidio Parkway to replace SF’s Doyle Drive, dies," 5 July 2018 The mother of two immediately started looking into pro bono work. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Lawyer Moms of America join fight to end migrant family separations," 26 June 2018 Beyond detention costs, judges will have to hear the cases, and defense attorneys will have to represent the unauthorized immigrants, with the pro bono Federal Defenders likely picking up the majority of that work. Kate Morrissey,, "Can legal system handle new zero-tolerance crackdown on illegal border crossings?," 12 May 2018 The women who were brought to the Dilley detention center could consult with pro bono legal advocates, like Sarah. Faith E. Pinho, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis attorney returns from border with stories she could not 'fathom'," 12 July 2018 The Austin Bar said there's a special need for pro bono attorneys to help with the first part of the immigration process — credible fear interviews and bond hearings. Mimi Whitefield, miamiherald, "An outpouring of help as plight of migrant children tugs at Americans' hearts," 19 June 2018 The commission also ruled, based on an earlier case, that pro bono legal work doesn’t count as a gift, so Hawley was off the hook on both accounts. Edward Mckinley, kansascity, "Missouri Ethics Commission dismisses complaint against AG Hawley," 15 June 2018 Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney to handle their case. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Free legal clinic for veterans set for June 2 in Richmond," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pro bono.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pro bono

1966, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pro bono

Latin pro bono publico for the public good

Latin pro bono publico for the public good

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Statistics for pro bono

Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for pro bono

The first known use of pro bono was in 1966

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More Definitions for pro bono

pro bono


Financial Definition of pro bono

What It Is

Pro bono refers to any work or service that someone provides free of charge for the common good.

How It Works

From the Latin phrase "pro bono publico" meaning "for the public good," the motivation behind pro bono work is to benefit society as opposed to making money. Pro bono work often refers to legal services offered without taking a fee. In countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, it is recommended by professional law associations that legal practitioners volunteer a certain number of hours for pro bono service each year. Although pro bono work is most often associated with legal services, it has become common for members of other professions such as medicine and consulting, to extend themselves in a similar manner for the benefit of those less fortunate.

To illustrate the nature of pro bono work, suppose an attorney provides some legal service to low-income families in his community free of charge. The unpaid work done for these families would be considered to be pro bono work, because the attorney is providing his services solely for the benefit of the less fortunate in the community.

Why It Matters

The altruistic nature of pro bono work can be thought of as more important that the actual work. Attorneys, for instance who engage in pro bono work donate their time and expertise in order to help improve the lives of others in their community.

Source: Investing Answers

pro bono


English Language Learners Definition of pro bono

law : involving or doing legal work for free

\ ˌprō-ˈbō-nō \

Legal Definition of pro bono 

: being, involving, or doing legal work donated especially for the public good

More from Merriam-Webster on pro bono

Nglish: Translation of pro bono for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pro bono for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pro bono

What made you want to look up pro bono? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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