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?
I’m very proud to don this logo on the SC Access to Justice blog. For the past three years, the American Bar Association has hosted this powerful, national event highlighting the importance of pro bono legal services around the United States.
In South Carolina, we’re proud to highlight some of the work in our own backyard. Throughout the remainder of Celebrate Pro Bono 2011, you’ll be able to learn how South Carolina law students and practicing attorneys interpret pro bono legal services and put it into action.
Many thanks to the American Bar, probono.net and the thousands of attorneys and law students who are celebrating pro bono this week!
Yes, Ben and Jerry’s has created a very special and I might add extremely delicious ice cream, BERRY VOLUNTARY.
Enjoy Greg and the great folks at VolunteerMatch’s YouTube debut as they challenge Stephen and his Americone Dream™.
And don’t forget to vote.
Vote often and vote for the BERRY!
You may also spread the word and be part of ice cream history. It is time to tell SC native Mr. Colbert that friends of the USC School of Law Pro Bono celebrate 20 years of volunteering by voting for BERRY VOLUNTARY. We are making VOLUNTEERS the WORD!!!
Be creative, be viral, TWEET, go to your Facebook friends, spread the word, don’t just sit there eating ice cream.
Originally Alex envisioned his legal career beginning at the public defender’s office, however, his path led him into private practice with two law firms, but with the downturn in the economy, he chose to start his own firm. His work at SCLS began by volunteering to take their employment cases. He had 5 years of Labor and Employment experience and knew he could help out. Once he had started volunteering, he noted that there was an opportunity for him to assist even more people working as a PAI attorney.
Since November 2009, he has taken on roughly 7 employment cases.
Has this work changed his vision of legal services?
Not really. I had previously volunteered at other legal service entities and consider pro bono a necessity for so many people who can’t even make ends meet.
What should practitioners know about your experience?
Major law firms should donate first year associates to their local legal services’ entity. It is of GREAT benefit to the firm. The associate gets a MUCH quicker immersion into law and learns some great basic skills such as:
Learning how to distinguish successful cases via a smell-test;
Team-building and learning to bounce ideas off each other;
The associates would gain practical, courtroom experience in a more relaxed environment. The associates should be volunteers for a minimum of 6 months to 1 year. Any help is good, but one year of service translates into a great volunteer – for life.
And you may wonder, why the big deal? Good question.
Here’s why I think it’s a big deal:
There are a LOT of attorneys out there (in and out of South Carolina) who are helping people for free every day, including weekends and holidays. Many of these attorneys receive no recognition for their work. And they deserve the recognition by the public and their peers.
So, if you know an attorney, law firm or program that has provided good pro bono service within the past year, please complete and return the Nomination form. You may just make yourself and someone else feel better. And that’s a good thing, don’t ya think?