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When new lawyers start practicing, life can be a balancing act. Trying to save on expenses, hoping to generate income, wishing to build up a client base quickly, and stay passionate during the highs and lows. It can be exciting, stressful and time consuming, but this is what you wanted to do, right? What if getting on the “right” track was work that didn’t give you any sort of revenue? If you haven’t considered pro bono work, it’s not too early in your career to give it a try.
Isn’t Pro Bono Work For Seasoned and Well-Off Lawyers?
Pro bono work is often seen as “charitable” work or that it’s a good thing to do “every now and then” so lawyers don’t look too greedy. For some lawyers maybe that’s the case, but in reality, any lawyer with any level of experience can benefit from doing pro bono work. By all means, never do work if you think it will make you “look good”. Remember why you went into law and represent who you’d like because you want help others, not because you are concerned about your image.
Pro Bono Work Can Be Motivating and Inspiring
New lawyers, after starting up a practice may suddenly hit a roadblock. You’ve got an office, the business cards, the advertising, but just a trickle of clients. If this sounds like your current situation go ahead and give pro bono work a chance. Here’s why:
- Whether you work within a firm or on your own, it provides an opportunity for immediate and meaningful client contact. When you accept a client, pro bono, it’s likely you will make a quick connection and feel inspired and motivated to help.
- With pro bono work, new lawyers have the opportunity to develop and hone skills integral to being an effective litigator such as active listening and effective face-to-face interpersonal communication.
- Pro bono work helps individuals who can’t afford legal advice or representation. While there are federally funded legal services, through non-profit and legal services providers, only about one in five low-income Americans can utilize such programs due to budget cuts. Countless of Americans need legal representation, but have no financial means to get the help they need or deserve.
You Just Feel Good
Pro bono work is not about you, but it can make you feel good about yourself. Will it boost your reputation? Probably. Does that matter? Maybe not, but it’s better to be a “good guy” than a schmuck. When you do pro bono work you’re helping people who can’t be helped by anyone else. You are restoring their faith in the judicial system. You show that you care about the community, you don’t discriminate, you care about the rights of every individual. It might even gain you some paying clients that admire your work and it’s also good for networking.
No matter what, give pro bono work a chance so you can continue to make a difference in the world, just like you planned when you decided you wanted to be a lawyer.