I have written about Pro Bono legal representation on different occasions, especially during or near the ABA’s National Celebrate Pro Bono Week. Here in South Carolina, I’ve seen more discussion about it, and even a little more participation.
But, I still don’t see as much participation as I would expect. So I have a question for attorneys, paralegals, and law students:
If you are not regularly engaged in pro bono representation, why not?
Please add your comments below. No expletives please. And, I’d like your honest answers.
- Have you been asked?
- Do you know where to find opportunities?
- Are you nervous to do so on your own?
- Do you think you don’t have enough time to add another case?
Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, Inc.
The Charleston County Bar Association Student Division cordially invites you to attend our 1st Annual Fund Raiser Event, supporting Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services.
549 King Street
Saturday, October 24th
5 -7 P.M.
Oysters provided by O’Malleys Grille
Come And Support
Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services while enjoying all the oysters you can eat and the best legal company in the Lowcountry!
Charleston County Bar Members & Student Division Members $10
Non-Members & Guests $15
*Tickets to be sold on the Charleston School of Law campus in the Barrister from 12:00 – 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm the week of October 12 – 16, 2009*
Please contact the following for ticket purchases:
Thanks to Virginia Howell for sharing with me!
Just in case you weren’t aware, there is an online site to go to learn about what’s happening in the Legal Aid and Pro Bono communities – at Legal Services Now. The current e-newsletter is available in html or pdf.
Our gal on the street, Nosy Wheeler, is heading over to the Legal Fraternity Phi Delta Phi Faculty Auction this evening at 701 Whaley St. Cost per person is $35 and the auction includes weekend get-aways, artwork and more!
What does PILS do?
- Funds law students in public interest law settings in South Carolina during the summer months.
And Nosy knows that PILS summer grant students go on to become great attorneys. In the past, she’s supervised many of them, who have gone on to practice in public interest law OR continue to support the programs.
Stay tuned for an update of the evening from Nosy.
Just as I was beginning to question whether public interest law could and would truly engage new attorneys, I read a story at www.lawjobs.com about Sara L. Woods.
Ms. Woods is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program aka Philly VIP. According to the article:
Woods says her gut and her heart are in public service work, so VIP is the right choice for her.
“I can’t imagine not working in the public sector. I see myself here for a long time,” she said.
Glad to have you with us Ms. Woods!
Theories abound as to why fresh, new lawyers are not turning to public service when they enter the workforce. Much of the discussion centers on the incredible debt that arises from law school, an average of $80,000+. Sure it would be hard to accept a job for $40,000 a year (see my previous article), but an article by Tan N. Nguyen in the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal paints a different picture.
According to Nguyen, law professors may play a large role in where students seek employment and that the trend is toward large firms.
Law schools often teach legal skills in the absence of any discussion regarding equity, fairness, or the possible result of their application in people’s lives. The case-analysis method of teaching law separates legal thinking from larger societal values.
Nguyen suggests alternatives in the article.
Now may be a good time for us to re-examine how we paint the profession to law students. Public interest lawyers do great work and deserve recognition. Maybe it’s time to let law students know that too.
PS – Many thanks to Ezra Rosser at Poverty Law Prof Blog for pointing us toward the article.
After the recent Presidential election, it appears that there has been a resurgence in public interest law, at least according to The National Law Journal. This is encouraging for those of us who are and have been working in public interest law, especially now when there is an increased need for competent and passionate attorneys.
On Friday, October 3rd, Rebecca Vallas, the PILA President, wrote an article in the Virginia Law Weekly encouraging law students to engage in pro bono services. She offered humorous, yet practical reasons for student involvement.
It’s always encouraging to hear what’s happening with the next generation of attorneys and this time, we’re thrilled!
For information about the USC School of Law’s PILS program, visit http://law.sc.edu/organizations/pils/. For information about the Charleston School of Law and its goals, visit http://www.charlestonlaw.edu/about.htm.