In observance of National Pro Bono Week, the Sociable Lawyer lists 5 ways that pro bono lawyers do well by doing good.
1. It’s good for the world.
Pro bono work earns lawyers the satisfaction of contributing to their communities in a way that only lawyers can. Pro bono work is a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. It is considered a traditional duty of the legal profession. Several states require it. For example, the preamble to the Supreme Court of Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct reads, “It is the responsibility of those licensed as officers of the court to use their training, experience and skills to provide services in the public interest for which compensation may not be available. An individual lawyer’s efforts in these areas is evidence of the lawyer’s good character and fitness to practice law.”
2. It’s good for your reputation.
Pro bono projects enhance an attorney’s reputations among clients and peers. The professional contacts that pro bono attorneys develop through exposure to the courts and public service agencies can lead to client referrals down the road.
Pro bono work reflects positively on a lawyer’s personality, which builds trust and helps bring in business. Clients are afraid of greedy lawyers; pro bono work proves that the lawyer actually cares.
Pro bono colleagues are compassionate professionals who want to help people and make a difference. By working together, pro bono lawyers can forge meaningful professional relationships that are based on a deeper affinity than the next billable hour.
3. It’s good for developing your skills.
Pro bono projects are a great way to gain skills and experience. This is particularly true for young attorneys who aren’t very experienced and so aren’t given much breadth of work or responsibility in their office jobs. Because pro bono services are in high demand, young attorneys can practice at a more advanced level and upskill earlier than their peers.
Pro bono work diversifies any lawyer’s professional experience. Pro bono projects often require that attorneys work outside their normal practice area and take on issues and roles that they normally would not take on. Often times, litigators end up doing transactional work, and transactional lawyers end up litigating. These opportunities provide valuable insights into the practice of law.
The educational value of pro bono work is so apparent that some states let lawyers apply pro bono hours toward their CLE requirements.
4. It’s good for your career.
Pro bono work is a great resume addition and a good talking point for interviews. The legal market is highly competitive and pro bono work gives attorneys a leg up. Hiring firms recognize that lawyers who have done pro bono work have a broader skillset and deeper capacity for empathy that their worker-bee colleagues.
5. It’s good timing.
The economic crises has forced more people who cannot afford an attorney into legal need. At the same time, funding for legal aid has dried up. Pro bono work is necessary if the most vulnerable in society are to have access to justice. You can make the difference. Find a legal aid resource in your state and GET INVOLVED.
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