Making Time for Pro Bono as a New Attorney

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Service has long been a part of my life. From a young age, family, friends and teachers stressed the importance of serving others and the community. And for the most part, I took their advice. Because it gave me a sense of purpose. Because it was the right thing to do. Because I enjoyed making connections with people. And, in small part, because it was easy. Going to volunteer at a soup kitchen could be accommodated in my then very busy middle school schedule.

The first time I ever felt that I might not have time to do service was in law school. I had heard the horror stories. Hours toiled away in the library pouring over huge casebooks and treatises. The form of torture known only as the “Socratic Method.” Some older students had even suggested postponing Pro Bono until my second year. Those stories proved to be untrue. I, along with my peers, was able to make Pro Bono work and was the better for it. Pro Bono gave my classwork context. It gave me the opportunity to learn practical skills. But most importantly, our school’s work, along with numerous public interest organizations and private attorneys, helped increase legal access to underserved communities.

And yet, I was scared, just as I was 1L year, that I would not have time to do Pro Bono as a private practice attorney. Surely I would be too busy working and doing all the things attorneys do to continue serving in a meaningful way. Luckily, my employer has been very supportive of me doing Pro bono. And, from talking to my peers, a lot of employers are because they recognize the importance of that work. I also realized very early on that I just had to make time for Pro Bono. I currently serve as a committee member on the Young Lawyers Division’s Legal Assistance Committee. I had opportunity to volunteer at the Committee’s annual Ask a Lawyer Event and will be volunteering at an upcoming Salvation Army Drop in Legal Clinic. In the spring, I intend on serving as a Pro Bono attorney with Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont and as a Healthcare Navigator. There will be times of course where work, family or other events in my personal life prevent me from doing Pro Bono. But Pro Bono and service are lifelong commitments. You make time, however much that is, for the things you love and the things you must do.

Posted by Munashe Magarira on Tue. December 9, 2014 8:06 AM
Categories: General
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