Pro bono is a term meaning work undertaken for the public good, usually without charge. Our firm, Magnus, has been approached a few times over the past 20 years and asked for input on cases for which there was little or no funding. Though we had a few cases where someone was trying to get something for nothing, we have said yes to attorneys in to those cases where we believed there was a reason to get involved. And, those reasons vary, but the cases we have chosen to participate in on a pro bono basis were ones which were high profile and which could impact lives in a positive way. In at least one of these, the person involved was a recent military veteran with post traumatic stress and we wanted to help him on that basis. Two of the cases were for the defense of high profile criminal cases, the prosecution of which seemed, in part, politically motivated. Helping in these incidents was intellectually rewarding as we could observe, and were told, how helpful our work was for the trial team. We know we made a difference in how the cases were resolved and hopefully, in the long run, in the lives of those involved. In addition, we were pleased to see justice served at some level and feel good knowing we were there to support the legal team responsible for securing the outcomes. As the business partner for Magnus, I always hope that we generate some goodwill that might lead to future business. But, that is not the determining factor in accepting a pro bono matter. That decision is made to help others (usually clients) who are offering their services pro bono, because they are trying to do good and help others.
Most of the pro bono work Magnus has done in the past 20 years has been for 1 large law firm that has a pro bono section. We have worked with many talented and caring attorneys, including one, in particular, on a variety of high profile criminal matters. The end clients in these cases rarely have the ability to appreciate the resources that are put into place to assist them. These clients are often among society’s forgotten people, who, for the most part, are accustomed to receiving nothing from anyone. The legal team and ancillary staff assembled to work on pro bono cases includes an amazing group of people who, like my spouse/business partner and me, are dedicated to “making a difference” by helping people who cannot afford to pay for this help. We have consulted on cases that have resulted in policy changes within the government, the aftermath of which have been far reaching reforms to assist people in need. I have come to respect the legal profession, in ways most people will never be able to understand, due to my professional association with some of the most intelligent, devoted, and human rights oriented people I have ever met. As a social psychologist, I am compelled to “give psychology away” whenever I can; working on pro bono cases has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career.