Pro Bono work is the undertaking of legal action for a client with low income or those fighting to protect human and civil rights. Poverty and civil rights violations usually impact clients and often include individuals and communities of color. As legal needs for these groups grow, it is vital for law firms and attorneys to get involved in helping within their community.
Getting Started With Pro Bono Cases
Sometimes finding a pro bono case is as simple as knowing someone who requires legal assistance and who lacks the financial means to pay for such services. However, attorneys can also get in contact with local legal services agencies or the bar association to find pro bono cases. Most people know they are working with busy attorneys and have a very streamlined process to be able to provide attorneys with the necessary tools to get started. Moreover, some state bar regulatory agencies require that attorneys engage in pro bono legal services as part of their annual requirement(s) to remain registered as an attorney.
Encourages Diversity of Your Experience
Pro bono work allows attorneys to practice law in an area that may not be their typical focus for their specific practice. When a firm partners with a legal aid clinic, the firm receives a list of cases that need attorneys and then divide the list among the attorneys on staff. The collective division of the various cases allows attorneys to revisit sections of the law that they might not have considered since law school. There is undeniably a sense of reward that comes from providing aid to those who are unable to assist themselves with legal challenges.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Along with the chance to practice outside of their day-to-day work, working on a pro bono case allows attorneys to work with other lawyers in their firms and develop relationships that may not have ever existed. Such collaboration helps build relationships and develop opportunities for future cases. Working on a pro bono case is also an excellent way for attorneys to network with each other; as doing so connects legal aid foundations with firms and helps with business development.
Helps Build Skills of Young Lawyers
Pro bono work helps younger, “greener” lawyers gain experience and build their skill set as well as learn to address the real concerns that many (particularly low income persons) face on a day to day basis. Younger attorneys often have yet to hone their craft and develop the interpersonal skills that they need to serve their clientele. Pro bono work not only assists in the development of trial and negotiation skills but such work exposes the younger attorney to a wide array of people that may not ordinarily be met but for handling pro bono cases.
Fulfillment of Your Career
Regardless of a firm’s size, helping others with their legal work can make any attorney feel re-energized and re-committed to the law (which is the reason that most people went to law school in the first place). Often, the energy and reminded sense of purpose from helping someone in need can carry over into their regular practice, which aids the attorney in better serving their ongoing clients.