National Celebrate Pro Bono Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services. This year we have been celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency. Today we are highlighting additional pro bono work around the country, and sharing resources to help volunteer attorneys get started. 

Earlier this year, the separation of families at the boarder headlined news outlets everywhere. Now? Not so much. While headlines in the US may have moved on, many families are still separated and immigrant parents are still detained in more than 200 immigrant prisons and jails in the U.S.

According to recent numbers, more than 4,000 parents and children were separated at the US-Mexico border between May 5, 2018 and June 9, 2018 as part of earlier “no tolerance” policy under the current administration. While efforts to reunite families have begun, thousands of parents and children still face uphill legal battles for reunification and relief.

Continue Reading An Interview with Betty Balli Torres, Pro Bono Net Board of Directors | A Pro Bono Week Exclusive

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  This year we are celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency in addition to pro bono work around the country. Throughout the week we will be sharing events, resources, and highlights of the work being done to help people facing legal challenges post-disaster. We are very proud to showcase this work and hope that it will inspire more people to get involved.

We’re excited to commemorate the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Week, a celebration of pro bono legal assistance involving events planned and attended by public interest legal advocates and the organizations they work with. This year’s celebration is focused on disaster resiliency. Recent disasters such as Hurricanes Michael and Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut devastated communities in the southeast and U.S. territories in the Pacific.

This month, Pro Bono Net joined Dentsu Aegis Network, a global marketing communications network, for a 2-day event titled IdeaJam Hackathon, to mark the beginning of a media campaign for disaster survivors and pro bono attorneys.

Continue Reading Pro Bono Net Joins Dentsu Aegis Network for an IdeaJam to Connect Disaster Survivors with Free Legal Help

Celebrate Pro Bono WeekPro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  This year we are celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency in addition to pro bono work around the country. Throughout the week we will be sharing events, resources and highlights of the work being done to help people facing legal challenges post disaster. We are very proud to showcase this work and hope that it will inspire more people to get involved.

Volunteer attorneys make a big difference in the lives of disaster survivors. In order to help those volunteers with their work, Pro Bono Net partners with organizations around the US and its territories to develop resources, tools, and networks to better prepare and facilitate volunteering. In addition to the roundtables we discussed yesterday, Pro Bono Net offers access to news and alerts, listservs, trainings, libraries and volunteer opportunities specially designed for disaster legal aid advocates.

Continue Reading DisasterLegalAid.org Advocacy Center | Pro Bono Week

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  This year we are celebrating National Pro Bono Week by focusing on disaster resiliency in addition to pro bono work around the country. Throughout the week we will be sharing events, resources and highlights of the work being done to help people facing legal challenges post disaster. We are very proud to showcase this work and hope that it will inspire more people to get involved.

This summer Pro Bono Net launched a national roundtable series to discuss topics of cross-cutting interest to disaster legal aid practitioners across regions, in partnership with Lone Star Legal Aid and the Legal Services Corporation.

Continue Reading Ready, Willing & Able: Organizing the Legal Community’s Response to Disasters | A Pro Bono Week Roundtable Discussion

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services. Today, as a bonus Pro Bono Week celebration spotlight, we are highlighting the work of Major General Michael J. Nardotti, Senior Partner at Squire Patton Boggs, and volunteer with The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program (TVC). Major Nardotti was named The Veterans Consortium’s Volunteer Inspiring Pro Bono (VIP) in 2017. 

Major General Michael J. Nardotti
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

TVC’s Volunteer Inspiring Pro Bono (VIP) is Major General Mike Nardotti (US Army, Retired and former The Judge Advocate General, US Army), Senior Partner, Squire Patton Boggs.  Mike represents clients on a broad range of defense, national security and other significant issues at all levels across the Department of Defense and other federal agencies and on matters of special interest to members of Congress. A decorated combat veteran, Mike served for more than 28 years on active duty as a soldier and lawyer. He was The Judge Advocate General – the senior military lawyer in the Army – from 1993 to 1997, advising military and civilian leaders on sensitive, complex and highly-visible legal and policy issues of importance to the Department of Defense, Congress and the media.

Mike was recently recognized by The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program for over 20 years of service to veterans and their families, caregivers and survivors, as a member of TVC’s National Volunteer Corps. Over the past 25 years, Squire Patton Boggs has supported The Veterans Consortium with over 92 attorney engagements in Federal courts, participated in specialized Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims (CAVC) trainings, and assisted TVC in taking dramatic steps forward in our capacity to provide free legal services to veterans and their loved ones.

With Volunteers Inspiring Pro bono (VIPs) like Mike Nardotti and his colleagues at Squire Patton Boggs, TVC’s National Volunteer Corps now stands at more than 2500 attorneys— from both law firms and corporate legal teams—and paralegals and other pro bono professionals from coast to coast.  As the leading national nonprofit focused on providing legal services free of charge to veterans – our nations defenders – TVC consistently delivers on our belief statement that our veterans deserve the care, benefits, and compensation they were promised, and the best legal services free of charge, to meet their challenges.   TVC’s 82% success rate in federal court cases is achieved by the passionate commitment of our National Volunteer Corps members like Mike Nardotti.

Ed Glabus, Executive Director TVC; Major General Mike Nardotti (Photo courtesy of Katharine McKenny)

As The Judge Advocate General, he also served as the leader and senior partner in one of the world’s largest law firms, the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. His team of 4,000 full- and part-time military and civilian attorneys and 5,000 full- and part-time military and civilian support staff provided comprehensive legal support and services to a worldwide community of more than one million Active, Guard, and Reserve commanders and soldiers and over one million family members.

Mike Nardotti’s military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. In 2006, he was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame, a high honor accorded those specially selected from the nominees of Ranger units and associations representing each era of Ranger history.

“We are privileged to have professionals like Mike Nardotti on the rolls of TVC’s National Volunteer Corps, and we salute his pro bono service as above and beyond the call of duty “, noted Ed Glabus, Executive Director, The Veterans Consortium.

 


The Veterans Consortium is the leading national 501c(3) charity providing free legal counsel in federal matters to qualified veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors worldwide since 1992. For additional information about The Veterans Consortium and our various outreach initiatives, visit: www.vetsprobono.org.

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  Today, in honor of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, we’re sharing the profile of Elizabeth Brancati,  a LiveHelp volunteer with LawHelpNY. Her story below was written by Allana Benton, LawHelpNY’s Serve New York VISTA.

 

Elizabeth Brancati
LawHelpNY

After nine years of being a prosecutor in New York City, Elizabeth and her family decided to leave the “Big Apple” for a small suburban town.  With the move she decided to take a break from the frenetic pace of the practice of law and stay home to care for her children. The transition proved to be more difficult than anticipated—she missed working as a lawyer. Finding an opportunity to stay involved in legal services in a way that still allowed her to tend to her family was difficult. Eager to find a way to stay active and connected in the field of law, she began to research pro bono opportunities. She stumbled upon Joan Archer’s “Volunteer Spotlight” profile, which detailed Joan’s volunteer experiences with LawHelpNY—an opportunity to get back into the field while still being at home with her children? It seemed too good to be true.

Volunteering as a LiveHelp operator came to be a perfect fit for Elizabeth. By making a small time commitment each week, she has been able to impact many lives: “I have been able to help people across the state—in real time—that have all kinds of questions and issues going on in their lives… I chat with a lot of users with questions about Family Law – custody, visitation, divorce, guardianship, adoption, and more. With the training sessions for operators and from reading the materials the LawHelpNY site links to, I have learned a ton about this area of law and can now more quickly help users navigate the court websites and information they might need. On one day, I answered three questions in a row about grandparents seeking guardianship of their grandchildren, and I could quickly point them in the right direction.” Most of the site visitors that she encounters are from New York City; this allows her to feel more connected to the place she formally called home. Additionally, it allows her to familiarize herself with areas of law that differ from what she had practiced.

While volunteering, Elizabeth came across a service listed on LawHelp that she often recommends to visitors in underserved parts of the state. The New York State Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers program connects volunteer attorneys to low-income individuals in need of limited representation and advice. Elizabeth has since become a volunteer with them as well! Elizabeth marvels at how technology makes pro bono volunteering so easy and accessible: I interact with people who are chatting from their phones while they are on the go and who live in places 10 hours away from me. I think it is great how convenient LiveHelp is for the users who are looking for help and also for the operators who assist them.

Although her children keep her busy most days, putting aside some time to volunteer has become an import and rewarding addition to her week. Elizabeth has been a consistent and dedicated volunteer, providing compassionate and professional assistance to New Yorkers navigating legal issues without the benefit of an attorney: “When I think about the values and lessons I want to instill in my children, being kind to others, helping those in need, and being a good neighbor are always on my list. Through volunteering for LawHelpNY, I get to do all of those, and my kids can see me doing it. When I first started searching for volunteer opportunities, I didn’t have much hope that a part-time, remote legal pro bono position existed anywhere. I felt so lucky to have found LawHelpNY and am grateful to have contributed in a small way to our New York community.”

 


LiveHelp is an online chat service designed to help users navigate legal aid websites and locate legal information, resources and referrals. LiveHelp volunteers offer individuals real-time assistance by pointing the way towards resources written in plain language about their legal problem and/or by helping them identify a free legal aid organization for representation or advice. LiveHelp operators are primarily law students and law graduates, working under the supervision of an attorney.

LHNYLawHelpNY, a program of Pro Bono Net, is New York’s leading online tool for helping low-income New Yorkers find solutions to their legal programs. Available in both English and Spanish, it provides and promotes access to high-quality online information about free legal services throughout New York, legal rights in a broad range of substantive areas, the court system, and related advocacy, government and social service organizations.

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  Today, in honor of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, we’re sharing the profile of Nic Rangel,  volunteer with Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY).

 

Nic Rangel
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York

Nic Rangel is the Floor Counsel and Ethics Counsel of the New York State Senate Democratic Conference. Nic is a committed volunteer in LASNNY’s Private Attorney Involvement programs, particularly Closing the Gap. The Closing the Gap program provides limited scope legal assistance to otherwise unrepresented litigants in housing and consumer cases through the use of remote technology and interactive interviews.

Tell me how you became interested in pro bono legal work.
I grew up poor, and lived in low-income communities most of my life. I have first-hand experience with some of the ways that unmet legal needs can compound the problems of people already living in poverty.

Now that I am an attorney, I have the ability to help people with some of their legal needs. I think it is my duty to do so and I am glad I can.

What kind of pro bono work are you involved in?
Closing the Gap, “CTG”, much of my pro bono work is through the Closing the Gap program. I provide brief, unbundled legal assistance in consumer debt matters and evictions.

Albany County Bar Association and LASNNY’s transgender name changes and gender marker changes.

The Center for Community Insight, Inc., I co-founded a non-profit organization to provide poverty simulation and poverty-related consulting services.

What Pro Bono Net platforms have helped you during your volunteering?
I first started using LawHelp as the Post-graduate Pro Bono Fellow at Albany Law School. I’ve accessed webinars, trainings and other materials from the Probono.net site. At the Equal Justice Conferences, I’ve attended the 50 NEW Tech Tips panels, and other panels addressing ways to use technology to reach more people in need of legal help. I have recommended Probono.net to recent law graduates to help them find pro bono opportunities in their areas of interest.

Now I primarily use Probono.net for the CTG program. I think my experience with LawHelp Interactive made it easier for me to understand how the guided interview produced effective legal documents.

How long have you been volunteering for?
As children, our parents taught us that it is our duty and responsibility to give back to our community. At least as far back as middle school I volunteered at the local food pantry for holiday food basket programs. By high school, I was volunteering with multiple organizations, including at my church, and at the humane society. I’ve have not had a gap in volunteering since then.

Can you share a highlight from a memorable case?
One of my CTG clients was fighting an eviction. The family of 5, 3 small children, were living in a unit that was otherwise condemned, had broken windows, a broken stove, a broken refrigerator, broken front door that allowed strangers access to a hallway, mold and a leaky roof. The tenants were still paying rent, and fighting to stay in this unit because it was the best they could do with their income. I drafted an answer for this family to try to keep them in this wretched living space, and they were so grateful for my help. I was glad I could provide the help they asked for, but disturbed by their quality of life and how little my help would actually do for them.

Why do you feel it’s important for you to do pro bono work?
People need the help. Most people cannot afford legal assistance for the vast majority of their legal needs. I have the privilege of being an attorney and I have a responsibility to use my privilege to help others.

Will you continue to do pro bono work? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes & Yes. I recommend pro bono work to students and attorneys for skills development, professional development, networking and relationship building, career exploration and, of course, service to the community. I have gained practical experience drafting legal documents related to consumer debt, eviction defense, and gender marker changes through my pro bono work in the last couple of years. I have also had the opportunity to engage in direct client services, which I do not get at my job.  I have referred several people to the CTG program specifically.


 

Pro Bono Net’s Closing the Gap builds legal assistance capacity in rural communities by facilitating limited scope assistance from pro bono volunteers based in Albany and Rochester. Combining real-time web video chat with client collaboration tools, remote review of documents and generation of pleadings through LawHelp Interactive, Closing the Gap increases the quantity and scope of pro bono service delivery in housing and consumer cases in rural upstate New York.

The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York provides effective, free civil legal services and education to and advocacy for people with low income or other barriers to accessing the legal system.  We secure basic needs, protect and preserve legal rights, provide equal access to justice and seek fairness and dignity for our clients.

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need and the incredibly important work of pro bono volunteers in building our capacity to meet the vast unmet need for civil legal services.  Today, in honor of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, we’re sharing the profile of Nisha Sandhu, a volunteer with Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS).

 

Nisha Sandhu
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in pro bono legal work.
I’m a solo practitioner with a family law and criminal appellate practice, both of which are demanding and very rewarding.  I grew up surrounded by volunteerism, which was a priority for my parents. My father actively participated in various community projects. He had and still has a strong sense of civic duty, responsibility and humanity, so it was a no brainer that I would give back to my community in the same way.  For me, I chose pro bono legal work for three reasons: 1) there’s a tremendous need in our community for legal services, 2) I’ve been blessed with curiosity and the ability to solve problems, and 3) I have a duty to use those abilities to better the world around me.  For me, the verse, For everyone to whom much has been given, from him much will be required (Luke 12:48 (NKJV)), is truth. I have my Dad to thank for that.

What kind of pro bono work are you involved in?
I handle mostly divorce and custody pro bono cases.  These are very emotionally wrenching areas for the parties going through them and can be difficult to navigate for those who are unrepresented.

Can you share a highlight from a memorable case?
One of my first cases involved a young lady seeking a divorce from her husband who was incarcerated. He’d been involved in drugs and she’s been through so much and had a young child she was raising despite all she’d been through. During our first conversation, she told me her story and after discussing a few details, she politely asked whether I’d be able to handle her case or whether she would have to “get a real lawyer.” We were on the phone, so I chuckled to myself a little and assured her that I was, in fact, handling her case and, what’s more, I was a real attorney.  Since that time, I’ve helped her with various other issues that have come up for her family and she’s been one of the best clients I’ve had.

 


Southeast Louisiana Legal Services offers civil legal aid to low-income people in Southeast Louisiana. Our mission is to achieve justice for low-income people in Louisiana by enforcing and defending their legal rights through civil legal aid, advocacy and community education. SLLS is Louisiana’s largest provider of free civil legal aid and works with government and public service agencies to secure justice for persons in need.

 

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need. We are celebrating Pro Bono Week, October 25-31, by honoring those dedicated volunteers. Each day we are spotlighting a pro bono volunteer in the community on our organization’s website in the Volunteer Profile section. Our final spotlight is of Fiona Finlay-Hunt at Davis Polk. She responded to some questions about her pro bono work.
Fiona Finlay-Hunt, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

Fiona Finlay-Hunt is an associate in the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. She is a member of the Intellectual Property & Technology group and her practice focuses on intellectual property issues arising from corporate transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings and credit transactions. Ms. Finlay-Hunt has participated in pro bono work spanning the arts and entrepreneurship, elder law, criminal appeals and corporate governance.

 

Why do you feel it’s important for you to do pro bono work? What motivates you?
I feel the importance of pro bono work relates directly to why a functioning society needs lawyers at all. It is my obligation as an attorney to understand and interpret the law and to translate this understanding into action for my clients. Without an advocate to guide clients through the often very complicated legal process, the rights and protections provided by law are rendered almost meaningless. It is important for those who are persecuted, discriminated against, impoverished and otherwise in need to know that they have a recourse in the law and a friend and ally in their attorney.

What do you see as some of the most important area of need? What kind of cases does your firm/company prioritize?

I believe that the most important areas of need for pro bono legal services currently are immigration and refugee services and issues relating to gender and sexuality. The law is evolving to better serve marginalized communities, such as new and undocumented immigrants, the LGBTQ community and those that have been displaced by persecution or violence, but without a lawyer these communities may not be able to access the protections afforded by the law, if they are even aware of their rights.

My firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, is heavily involved in serving these communities. For example, we run clinics and long-term projects relating to transgender name change, uncontested divorces, veteran care issues, elder law, and small business. Additionally, we run a number of collaborative projects to serve asylum seekers with Sanctuary for Families and Human Rights First, as well as an asylum workshop that we conduct with Columbia Law School’s Center for Public Interest Law. Davis Polk’s reach in terms of pro bono offerings is truly extraordinary.

So it is obvious that the need is overwhelming, but so is a busy work day: how do you find the time?

I treat my pro bono clients’ needs the same as those of any of the firm’s clients. In many cases, urgent matters that arise in the context of pro bono work may have a disproportionate impact on the client because they relate to an acute personal issue. I try to balance my urgent work so that I can serve my pro bono clients with the same responsiveness, accuracy and care as any of the firm’s clients. The firm encourages as much pro bono work as possible, so my pro bono work and my billable work are one and the same to me.

How do you find cases or issues that interest you? How do individuals at your firm/company find cases?

In certain cases I have been sought out by a senior associate who has an interesting project for a long-standing pro bono client, or someone has referred a matter to me because of my practice area. On the other hand, the firm’s resources and support for pro bono are such that one may easily sign up to participate in any of the workshops and clinics that the firm hosts or sends attorneys to attend. For instance, I have participated multiple times in the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts clinic that the firm hosts every summer.

Another means by which I have become involved in pro bono work is by working closely with a partner with a robust pro bono practice. As a member of Davis Polk’s Intellectual Property and Technology Group, I have been fortunate to become involved with Pro Bono Net through Frank Azzopardi. These client relationships are one of the best ways for junior associates to become essential team members on interesting and impactful pro bono matters, and to get to know the wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to giving underserved communities vital access to justice.

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Pro bono work is a core responsibility of Davis Polk. We are committed to serving the public good and providing legal services to those who cannot otherwise obtain legal representation. Our lawyers work on pro bono matters throughout their careers at the firm, and we champion pro bono work through partner mentoring, training opportunities and the commitment of resources. We consider pro bono work to be of equal stature to billable matters, and our lawyers offer the same caliber of service to our pro bono clients as we do to our paying clients.


 

Once again we wish to thank all of the volunteers that continue to make our mission of increasing access to justice a reality. Come back each day this week to view the next Volunteer Profile spotlight!

Interested in volunteering?  Check out our “Volunteer Tools” page to learn about the range of resources we have at Pro Bono Net to help mobilize and engage pro bono volunteers, or start searching for opportunities right now by using our national Pro Bono Opportunities Guide!

Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need. We are celebrating Pro Bono Week, October 25-31, by honoring those dedicated volunteers. Each day we are spotlighting a pro bono volunteer in the community on our organization’s website in the Volunteer Profile section. Today’s spotlight is Heather McDevitt, a Partner at White & Case LLP.
Heather McDevitt, Partner, White & Case
Heather McDevitt, White & Case

 

Heather McDevitt is a litigation partner at White & Case LLP. She is the head of the firm’s Global Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Group, and a member of the Firm’s Partnership Committee. Today’s volunteer feature gives us a very special personal insight into pro bono from a partner perspective at one of the nation’s leading law firms. It provides some useful advice and guidance that we hope will serve as an inspiration for many others to volunteer and join the collective effort to ensure fairness for all in our justice system.

 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My family originally is from New York, but we moved around a bit during my childhood. I spent the first half of my childhood in Burlington, Vermont and moved to Austin, Texas for the second half. I went to college at Wellesley and studied law at Albany Law School. I’ve been with White & Case since 2002 and have been practicing law since 1993. At White & Case, I’m a litigation partner with a focus on representing life sciences and pharma companies. I’m also the head of the Firm’s Global Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Group and a member of the Firm’s Partnership Committee

How did you become interested in pro bono legal work?

I’ve always been interested in the aspects of our justice system that don’t work as well, or as fairly, as they should. I have seen firsthand how the system doesn’t work for some individuals, and sometimes creates results that are unfair and arbitrary. I really wanted to see what I could do as a private practitioner to help chip away at that, even if the immediate impact of my efforts was only at an individual level.

I started working on pro bono matters as a very young associate. I was a member of a team representing a man who was on death row in Alabama. I worked on the case for about 13 years, starting at the state level post-conviction phase until its conclusion. In some respects I felt like I grew up working on that case; over time I became one of our client’s two lead lawyers and served as a primary point of support for him throughout that time. Over the years I worked closely with Bryan Stevenson and Randy Susskind of the Equal Justice Initiative – two people who have had a tremendous impact on my professional development – and they asked me to lead the Eighth Amendment challenge to Alabama’s method of execution by lethal injection in addition to the work we were doing for our longstanding client.

Ultimately our client was executed in 2007, and I took a break from working on pro bono cases for a time. Recently though, I am leading a team representing Mark Schand, a man who spent nearly 27 years in prison after being convicted of a murder that he did not commit. He was exonerated, and we have filed a civil rights lawsuit on his behalf to compensate him and his family for the decades he lost as a result of his wrongful conviction.

What would you advise someone who is thinking about volunteering?

My best advice would be to stop thinking about it and just do it. As lawyers we may become very concerned about how pro bono work will best fit into our practice and how it lines up with our experience, but these should not always be the deciding factors. You could find a type of dispute or other pro bono engagement that really interests you or that you have prior experience in. Or you can work on a matter that is different from your everyday practice, but that would nevertheless benefit from your judgment and acumen. Both types of engagements are truly beneficial.

There are so many needs in both the criminal and civil justice systems that are going unfulfilled. For example, a significant percentage of our population has no access to our civil justice system due to the cost of that access – they are in a bind because while they don’t qualify for legal aid, they certainly cannot afford a lawyer. That is not a sustainable state of affairs when it comes to the legitimacy of our system of justice. We just need smart, capable and willing lawyers to devote some time to these matters. I think the rewards manifest themselves pretty quickly for people who are on the fence about taking on pro bono work, as they realize they can really make a difference, even on a micro-level.

To me, this actually is part of a much larger issue that we as a profession need to come to grips with in the near term. It seems like now, more than ever, the US public is very cynical about our institutions. Having a strong, fair, and accessible system of justice is really important for the public’s confidence. I believe that, perhaps different from other professions, legal professionals have an obligation to maintain our system and to uphold its trustworthiness and stature. Pro bono work is a significant way in which we can do this.

Did you learn any new skills during your experience?

Yes, from both an in-court and out-of-court perspective, I learned that you need to sometimes adapt your style and strategy to the circumstances you are facing. In pro bono cases, you may find yourself in an unfamiliar jurisdiction – away from home or even just a local court in which you do not often practice. To go back to my first pro bono experiences, Alabama courts can be different than New York courts, and you need to be sensitive to those issues in order to get the best result for your client.

This could mean moderating or adjusting how you present your case in court by being more or less aggressive, for just one example. This is one of the reasons why I think pro bono is such a terrific training ground for junior lawyers who are still trying to figure out how to approach each matter strategically. And for more senior lawyers, I think it is a good reminder that one size doesn’t fit all in the way we approach the work we do for all of our clients.

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Learn more about pro bono at White & Case.


Once again we wish to thank all of the volunteers that continue to make our mission of increasing access to justice a reality. Come back each day this week to view the next Volunteer Profile spotlight!

Interested in volunteering?  Check out our “Volunteer Tools” page to learn about the range of resources we have at Pro Bono Net to help mobilize and engage pro bono volunteers, or start searching for opportunities right now by using our national Pro Bono Opportunities Guide!