In theory, it sounds relatively easy to execute. However, solo practitioners and small law firms may overlook this opportunity due to aggressive time and energy demands.
Pro bono work offers tremendous benefits to the law firm that engages in it, including diverse experiences, reputation enhancement, and professional fulfillment. Developing a pro bono program is where many lawyers struggle with finding opportunities and promoting their contributions.
Pro bono work gives lawyers and small law firms a chance to work in a broader breadth of cases. This opportunity allows attorneys to build skills, experience, and knowledge, which benefits the firm overall. Whether expanding a professional network or improving competencies, pro bono work helps attorneys become better practitioners.
From a reputation perspective, pro bono work is an effective marketing tool. Not only do clients care about values, but they also feel good about working with a firm that gives back. Pro bono work positions lawyers as caring community members.
Additionally, professional associations and organizations award small law firms for their personal and professional contributions. Engaging in pro bono services demonstrates this commitment and leads to a shot at receiving an award. Awards further enhance a firm’s reputation.
Regardless of initial motivations, lawyers ultimately take on the role of helping people. Pro bono allows them to provide access to underserved populations. However, supporting these populations go beyond giving free legal advice.
It is a chance to pave the path to change through philanthropy. Legal services are vital but often cost-prohibitive for many individuals. Start changing their lives and the lives of others through pro bono work.
A pro bono program is essential to proper execution. There are numerous opportunities to consider. The most important thing to remember is that the work should inspire the solo or small law firm to reach new career and service heights.
Aligning a firm’s pro bono work with a mission starts with finding the right cases. It makes the difference between a passion project and a pain in the neck. The primary goal is to find a cause that interests the attorney personally. For example, a criminal defense lawyer can participate in clinics, or a real estate attorney can help displaced tenants avoid eviction.
It is easy to get excited about pro bono work and how it should work. Unrealistic expectations leave one feeling disappointed or unsatisfied. Attorneys may want to wait for the right opportunity to come along rather than take on work for reasons that do not align with the firm’s mission.
Mentorship is an excellent way for an attorney to pay it forward to others who have just graduated or are soon-to-graduate from law school. This relationship can be beneficial in the future, including case and networking synergy. It is also an excellent way for students and associates to develop much-need skills and experience.
If time prevents an attorney from going full throttle into pro bono work, then selecting single-day events can help in this capacity. Look for opportunities that only take a few hours but make a significant impact on the public-at-large. Consider handling the permit filings for a charitable marathon or serving as an at-large board member for a non-profit organization.
Finding pro bono work is as easy as making a phone call to a local non-profit, bar association, or legal agency. These organizations are well-suited to serve lawyers and their busy schedules. While time may preclude many from serving, there is a tremendous benefit associated with pro bono and philanthropy.
Pro bono work is a fundamental part of remembering why one became a lawyer in the first place. Regardless of how much lawyers are doing through charitable and community service, pro bono creates an integrated solution that ensures equal access to justice. These are all things that money can never buy.
For more information about improving a pro bono program, contact Denver Legal Marketing for an initial consultation.