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Spotlight on Pro Bono: Why Pro Bono? Why Not!

By Sandy L. Morris

Tired of answering “zero” hours of voluntary pro bono service on your annual attorney registration form? It’s time to think about why and how you can help the increasing numbers of self-represented litigants.  

If you were to ask the 31,972 Illinois attorneys who self-reported pro bono service in 2016 (the most recent year for which this information is available) why they logged those hours, you would probably get 31,972 different answers. The reasons for pro bono are as varied as they are personal. But attorneys who perform pro bono services often cite one or more of the following benefits:

  • Giving Back. Those of us fortunate enough to have earned a law degree have access to a mind-boggling array of legal knowledge. Logging pro bono service hours is one way to share the wealth.
  • Impact. There is no feeling like knowing that you had a positive effect on someone’s life. Clients in need of pro bono services are likely to be in the midst of a life-altering event like a divorce, foreclosure, or collection action. With a relatively minimal time investment, you can turn a stressful experience into a manageable one.
  • Making a Personal Connection. It’s easy to stay in our bubble of family, friends, and work colleagues. Performing pro bono service often takes us outside of that bubble and introduces us to neighbors we otherwise might never meet.
  • Networking. Meeting others who share your passion can be inspiring.  Plus, the attorney you volunteer with each month at a legal clinic just might turn out to be a referral source for your day job.  
  • Increasing skills and confidence. Being a young lawyer can be frustrating.  Sometimes you need a win that you can call your own.  Think you don’t have the experience to help?  Think again.  Because of the training, mentoring, and legal resources offered by many legal aid organizations, you don’t need to be an expert – you just need the desire to learn.

Convinced of the benefits of pro bono service? Find the ideal opportunity at Illinois Legal Aid Online or on the American Bar Association website.

Posted on February 9, 2018 by Sara Anderson
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