What legal work qualifies as pro bono?
The State Bar Board of Trustees defines pro bono as providing or enabling “the direct delivery of legal services, without expectation of compensation other than reimbursement of expenses, to indigent individuals, or to not-for-profit organizations with a primary purpose of providing services to the poor or on behalf of the poor or disadvantaged, not-for-profit organizations with a purpose of improving the law and the legal system, or increasing access to justice.” See the Pro Bono Resolution on the State Bar’s website.
Legal work for clients referred from a qualified legal services program will always qualify as pro bono. But assisting friends or relatives who are not indigent is not pro bono. Similarly, if a client is suddenly unable to pay for legal services, that does not count as pro bono as the attorney expected compensation at the outset of the representation.