There is great difficulty in defining pro bono lawyering. The classic model is the practitioner who devotes time to representing a client in a civil or criminal matter. But some consider other legal relationships pro bono as well, such as service on the boards of directors of nonprofit organizations, legal work at reduced fees, and activities that improve the law and legal profession. In the case of organizations such as the ACLU and the NAACP LDF, pro bono means a mixture of much of the above, as public interest law firms work hand in hand with private lawyers and firms to move the law and the profession forward. Thanks to the Civil Rights Attorneys Fees Act of 1976, attorneys who volunteer their time in advance may be awarded attorneys' fees, but only if they win. Most organizations now give cooperating attorneys a proper portion of the fees in such cases.
Richard C. Reuben,
The Case of a Lifetime, 80 ABA Journal 70
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/833