Pro bono is the shortened version of pro bono publico. It is used in different contexts in different countries and professions, but usually refers to work undertaken by professionals who are acting in the interests of the public and do not expect a profit for their time. Lawyers most commonly undertaken this kind of work.
Pro bono translates literally as ‘for good.’ It first came into English usage in 1726.
Proper and Improper Use
The term pro bono is most commonly used in a legal context, although it is also used in business and medicine. In the UK, lawyers are required to work a certain amount of pro bono hours a year. However, not all voluntary work is pro bono. The term is only applied if the work is being undertaken by a professional. For example, helping out at an animal shelter, although noble, is not an example of pro bono, whereas a lawyer or a doctor providing legal services to a low-income family is.