This paper will consider the “tension at the border”1 between publicly funded legal services, or legal aid, and services offered by the legal profession without charge, or pro bono legal services.
This phrase is intended to capture several important issues surrounding the relationship between pro bono and legal aid.
For lawyers in private practice, there is often not a “bright line” between legal aid and pro bono work. Work on a legal aid file routinely involves a pro bono contribution, either because lawyers work for hourly rates that are significantly lower than what they normally charge, or continue work on a file after the legal aidplan stops paying for their work. It is also not uncommon for lawyers in private practice to prefer taking occasional pro bono files rather than dealingwith the administrative requirements and constraints required by legal aid plans.