Just to ensure we’re all starting on the same page, we are defining pro bono work as the provision of legal services for free (or at reduced rates) to the poor, or to nonprofit organizations that serve a community’s less fortunate. Some attorneys are extremely engaged with pro bono services and volunteer much of their time to helping the disadvantaged. Other lawyers, however, are far less active in the pro bono circuit. To the latter group, we say hop on the pro bono band wagon. There are great benefits to providing pro bono services and these apply to new lawyers and seasoned attorneys alike.
There are four major benefits for lawyers to perform pro bono work. These include:
- You Gain Experience. Pro bono services allow lawyers to gain actual experience in a variety areas of the law. Whether it be assisting clients on family law matters or housing issues, pro bono work provides attorneys with the opportunity to learn about the law. This opportunity is almost invaluable to new lawyers seeking to: (1) gain immediate hands-on work; and, (2) include quality experience on their resume.
- You Build Skills. This is related to the above but also stands alone. Pro bono work comes in a variety of shapes and forms. But, a commonality across all types of work is that it involves utilizing legal skills. This work, therefore, allows lawyers to build or perfect their lawyering abilities. These can include: communicating with clients, drafting legal documents, appearing before judges, and trying cases.
- You Grow Your Network. Providing pro bono services means interacting with other attorneys and professionals that you would not normally meet. This translates into excellent value in terms of growing your network. If you’re a new lawyer, this form of networking allows you to meet potential mentors and employers. For experienced attorneys, pro bono networking can lead to solid referrals.
- You Feel Good. It’s 100 percent true. Helping others, especially those less fortunate, makes us feel kind-hearted and selfless. Pro bono work means providing others with hope. It also empowers people and let’s us know that we are using our legal skills for the betterment of others and the community. These are all good things.
Pro Bono Opportunities
Now that we have you sold on pro bono work, the question becomes: what pro bono opportunities are available? Honestly, there are usually several opportunities in your community and your local bar association is the best resource to gain further information on them. For those in Seattle, the King County Bar Association provides many pro bono positions on its website. Some programs and projects include:
- Family Law Mentor Program
- Housing Justice Project
- Neighborhood Legal Clinics
- Project Safety Domestic Violence Protection Order Attorney
- Self-Help Plus Program
- Social Security Mentorship Program
- Kinship Care Solutions Project
If you’re not active in providing pro bono services, you must seriously consider pro bono opportunities. They only help a lawyer’s legal career. This goes for both those lawyers fresh out of law school and those with years of practice experience. If you have questions on opportunities that might be right for you, simply contact us today. We are always happy to help!