Welcome, our first post will address an important topic for us lawyers and the general public: Pro Bono Legal Services.
What does Pro Bono mean?
The Latin expression "pro bono publico", commonly abbreviated as "pro bono" means: to benefit the public, for the common good. It’s a misconception to think that only lawyers do pro bono work. Other experts who perform volunteer work on their fields such as doctors, engineers, etc., also carry out pro bono activity.
Public Defenders are government lawyers who provide legal aid to underprivileged people. However, they can hardly attend everyone in need, nor give special attention to most complex cases, hence the importance of private lawyers to provide pro bono services.
Pro bono legal services includes work inside and outside court, at no fee or substantially reduced fee. Firms all over the world have practiced it for quite some time. Firms, such as Marello Advogados, practice pro bono in complex causes, with the purpose to play a role as social game changers and provide justice for all.
Pro bono services aims to balance the judicial system by representing deprived people with the same quality as their opponents who can hire qualified professionals. It levels the dispute between wealthy and poor when they are in conflict. Therefore, pro bono lawyers play a vital role in the fight against social inequality.
Who is eligible to obtain Pro Bono services in Brazil?
Despite the importance of pro legal services, some firms advertise it for marketing reasons, without effectively doing it. This is strictly forbidden and frowned upon. Providing pro bono services to benefit people who can actually pay (friends, neighbors, company owners, etc.), in order to increase ones clientele is an ethical violation, and goes against the fight for inequality that supports this kind of service.
In response to these abuses, the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) outlined when pro bono legal services will be admitted in the article 30 of the new Code of Ethics and Discipline. It establishes that pro bono services may be provided only in favor of
Non-profit organizations without religious or political ties;
People in general who don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer.
Our Pro Bono Program in Rio de Janeiro
Like other forms of voluntary work, pro bono work is an act of solidarity, of love for one another. Which, in this case, aims to build a fairer society.
In order to propagate these ideas, not only to other lawyers, but also to those assisted by us, we understand that people who wish to benefit from free legal services must also give something back to society. Apart from the requirements set by the the Brazilian Bar Association, which must always be observed, only the following individuals/organizations may benefit from a free lawyer: