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I heard someone say; "I used to work with you for free. Now I'm gonna do it pro bono" And I thought he just repeated himself. But I want clarity. So what does pro bono actually mean?

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My understanding is that "for free" is simply "for free", but pro bono publico refers to a subset of free work aimed at certain recipients, specifically those unable to pay, or charitable, civic etc. organizations on behalf of such people, or (to a lesser extent) a worthy organization of limited means for free or reduced rates. So working for Bill Gates for free would not be pro bono work, since he has no problem with means.

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"Pro bono publico" == For the good of the public.

It's normal usage is in the context of legal services provided for free, as in:

http://www.probononj.org

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