From Beyond the Billable: Finding the Right Pro Bono Opportunity Can Be A Challenge

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

By Emily Hodge

Finding the right pro bono opportunity can be a challenge. Without feeling committed to the cause, it’s hard to get engaged and remain committed over time. Throughout the years I have coordinated a pro bono program at my firm, I have seen many attorneys who have the desire to get involved in pro bono work, but don’t know how to make the time, haven’t found a cause that resonates with them, or have been turned off after being thrown on a case they weren’t interested in. Attorneys have extensive demands on their time, and without accessible, manageable opportunities that attorneys can feel passionate about, many who are open to the idea of pro bono work simply won’t take it on.

Finding a cause that resonates with each individual attorney is crucial. Once someone feels committed to the cause, they become more engaged, and often they remain committed over a longer period of time, becoming willing to take on not just one case, but another, and yet another. In addition to identifying the right cause, attorneys have to feel supported – by their employers and the community – so that they can successfully balance their pro bono work with the other demands on their time. Whether working at a firm, the government, or another large institution, learning how to find the necessary support can be a challenge in and of itself.

Increasing the number of attorneys who engage in pro bono work, and increasing their engagement over time, allows for the benefits provided to individuals and non-profit organizations by pro bono legal services to grow exponentially. Taking steps to achieve this goal is important to the members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program, so we have arranged for a panel discussion entitled “How to Navigate Pro Bono Work at Law Firms” on October 9th at 4:00 p.m. The panel will be followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. hosted by the New Lawyers Pro Bono Committee, with representatives from various sections who can speak with attorneys about specific pro bono opportunities. In addition, on October 22nd from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. the BBA will be co-sponsoring the Pro Bono Fair for Attorneys and Law Students at Suffolk University Law School. Representatives from a very wide range of non-profit organizations will be in attendance to educate attorneys about the types of pro bono opportunities that are available in our community.

With four very experienced panelists and an expert moderator, next week’s panel will provide attorneys with the tools they need to incorporate pro bono work into their practice. Whether at a law firm or not – the skills and tactics that will be discussed will apply to attorneys across a range of practices, including both litigation and transactional work. Join us to learn how to make pro bono work a lasting part of your practice.