“MAKING A REAL DIFFERENCE”
(Jun. 13, 2019) — Sometimes it’s necessary to take on a case pro bono. Keep reading for 7 key reasons why your law firm should take pro bono cases.
Every year, millions of Americans do their best to navigate the legal system on their own and handle their cases without the help of a lawyer.
There are lots of reasons why people choose to do this, but one of the most common is the fact that they cannot afford a lawyer’s services. This is especially true for state criminal defendants — 80 percent of them can’t afford to hire a lawyer.
If you want to help these people get the representation they need, you may want to consider taking on pro bono cases at your firm. A pro bono case definitely helps the defendant who can’t afford an attorney, but it also benefits you as a lawyer.
Listed below are seven reasons why you could benefit from taking on pro bono cases.
Learn New Legal Skills
One of the greatest benefits of doing pro bono work is the fact that it provides you with an opportunity to learn new skills.
Whether you’re a corporate lawyer who’s never handled contracts or a litigator who’s never had a chance to argue in court yet, pro bono work will allow you to improve and broaden your skill set.
Help More People
There are lots of reasons why people become lawyers. Presumably, one of the reasons you chose this profession is that you wanted to help people.
If you’re only providing services to people who can pay your fees, you’re likely not helping as many people as you could be.
By offering pro bono services, even on just an occasional basis, you can expand the number of people helped and make a real difference in their lives.
Meet Professional Responsibilities
Remember, you have a professional responsibility to do pro bono work, too. The American Bar Association requires you to do at least 50 hours of pro bono work every year.
If you’re tired of scrambling to meet that quota at the end of the year, why not start making pro bono work a regular part of your firm?
Improve Your Reputation
Doing pro bono work is a great way to build your reputation as a lawyer and your firm’s reputation. When you do pro bono work, you also develop a good reputation in your community.
People may be more likely to work with you (both those who can and cannot pay for your services) if they know that you make time to help out the poor.
Build Your Network
When you do pro bono work, you also get new opportunities to meet and collaborate with lawyers you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Networking is a challenge for a lot of lawyers. Doing pro bono work makes it a lot easier for them to expand their circle and create relationships that could benefit their firms in the future.
Bring in New Recruits
If you make a habit of doing pro bono work at your firm, you may make yourself more appealing to new lawyers.
Young lawyers fresh out of law school often have a strong desire to help others, and they may be more inclined to work with your firm if they know that you make service a priority.
Help Young Lawyers Gain Experience
Offering pro bono services also gives you an opportunity to train new lawyers and help them develop their skills.
Remember, the more experience they get, the better they’ll be. This, in turn, will allow your firm to be more profitable in the future.
How to Get Started with Pro Bono Work
Okay, you can see that there are benefits to handling some pro bono cases at your law firm. How do you start doing this, though? And, how do you make sure you’re not losing money in the process?
The following are some strategies you can implement to help you through the process as you begin making pro bono work a part of your firm:
Take Advantage of Tax Deductions
There are some tax deductions you may be able to take advantage of when you start doing pro bono work. This can help to offset some of the additional expenses you may take on. Remember, though, that your time is not tax deductible.
Start with Weekend Work
A great way to dip your toe in the waters of pro bono work is to start with some weekend volunteering.
Maybe you and the other lawyers at your firm can offer pro bono legal services on rotating weekends. That way, you won’t sacrifice time working with paying clients during the week, but you’ll still have an opportunity to help those in need.
Partner with a Legal Aid Organization
Another good option is to partner with a legal aid organization or free clinic. There are tons of nonprofit organizations out there looking for lawyers who will volunteer their time.
If you partner with one of these organizations, they’ll handle a lot of the scheduling and other aspects of pro bono work for you. This will free you up to focus more on the people who need your help.
Try Different Types of Pro Bono Work
Remember, pro bono work isn’t just about working one on one with clients. There are other ways you can give of your time and help people who need your legal expertise.
Maybe you can offer advice to the board of a local charity or your local school board. These people can benefit from legal knowledge, too, and will surely be happy to have your help.
Start Taking Pro Bono Cases Today
As you can see, there’s a lot your law firm can gain from taking on pro bono cases from time to time.
It might seem a little strange to offer these services at first, but it’s definitely worth it, in the long run, to give away some legal advice for free.
Are you looking for more advice on running your law firm? Do you need help with marketing, social media, or any other aspect of the job? If so, we’ve got resources for you on our site.
Check out our editorials today for more helpful advice!
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.