As part of the ABA’s National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, the Practising Law Institute gave PBN board member and pro bono and legal services consultant extraordinaire (and generally super person) Tiela Chalmers and me the opportunity to present a free webinar on pro bono for over 200 lawyers from across the United States. Titled “How to Start – and Succeed – at Pro Bono,” the hour-long program addressed a number of the questions that lawyers new to pro bono work frequently pose.
We started the hour by asking the most fundamental question – why do pro bono at all? Especially when the market for legal employment is more competitive than ever, who can afford to help people for free? I’ve written about some of the reasons on this blog before, but apart from the most obvious ones – the overwhelming need, how great it feels to give back, and the (often forgotten) obligation that comes with a license to practice law – we also discussed the idea of “doing well by doing good.” Simply put, lawyers get almost as much benefit from pro bono work as their clients in the form of enhancing skills and experience, building business networks, and raising one’s professional profile.
That fundamental question, in my experience, is the hardest question to answer. Once folks embrace the idea of doing pro bono, the details of making it happen – learning what types of opportunities are available, considering how to balance their time, finding an organization to work with – seem much less daunting. We (ok, mostly Tiela) offered some fantastic tips for addressing those issues, but I’ll encourage you to check them out for yourself – the recording dropped on November 7!