Spotlight on Pro Bono: Celebrating National Volunteer Week

By Kim Thielbar, Director of Pro Bono Services, Prairie State Legal Services and Laurie Bell, Pro Bono Coordinator, Prairie State Legal Services 

As attorneys, it is easy to focus on the events and celebrations that are unique to lawyers and the practice of law. In the pro bono context, that often means bar associations and legal aid organizations honor volunteers during National Celebrate Pro Bono Week at the end of October and Law Day at the beginning of May. This focus on law-related events can sometimes overshadow celebrations that are not solely focused on the law, such as National Volunteer Week.

National Volunteer Week is celebrated annually during the third week of April. This year it will be observed from April 21-27, 2024. The event was established by the Presidential Proclamation in 1974 to recognize the spirit of volunteerism and encourage people across the country to volunteer. The celebration is organized in the U.S. by the Points of Light Foundation, and has grown each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. It is “an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world.”

Attorneys have unique training and skills to make a difference in the community in ways that most other people cannot. With National Volunteer Week upon us, we want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank all the volunteers who have used their talents to help low-income families and individuals address their legal needs throughout Illinois. In addition to the attorneys who take on cases pro bono, we want to also recognize all the support staff and other professionals who help move those cases forward. Although the attorney generally gets most of the credit, these professionals also deserve our gratitude for ensuring these cases are completed and the client’s needs are met. If you have taken on a pro bono case recently, thank you. If you have not, consider using National Volunteer Week as a launching pad to make a difference in your community.

As President Biden said in his 2023 Proclamation on National Volunteer Week, volunteering “can teach important skills, help build professional networks, and provide an empowering sense of purpose. Volunteering brings people together, uniting us around our common belief in the dignity and equality of every person and giving us a chance to learn from others we might otherwise never meet.” If you are looking for opportunities to volunteer in your community during National Volunteer Week, or at any other time during the year, we encourage you to reach out to Prairie State Legal Services at or another legal aid organization. You can also find other information about pro bono service and volunteer opportunities on the ISBA's Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services page.

Posted on April 22, 2024 by Celeste Antoinette Niemann
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