Reflecting On: Pro Bono Week

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            Pro Bono Week is an annual event on the Program’s calendar focusing on giving back to the people who make our Program what it is: the students. Pro Bono Week is, as the name suggests, a weeklong celebration made up of several events and programs created with UNC Law students in mind. When I began planning Pro Bono Week, I knew it was a special opportunity for the Pro Bono Board to thank students for their hard work and dedication to providing Pro Bono services for citizens of North Carolina. I did not know how this event would change my perspective on Pro Bono work, particularly how UNC Law students interact with their Pro Bono work.


            My vision for this year’s Pro Bono Week centered on the skills students receive from Pro Work. The Pro Bono Program has identified the following skills as being developed through Pro Bono projects: client communication; statutory interpretation; community engagement; document review; due diligence; trial experience & strategy; professional and interpersonal skills; and legal research and writing. These skills are not only critical to doing Pro Bono work, but also critical to being a good lawyer. To draw attention to these skills, one of the events during Pro Bono Week highlighted them visually. The name of the event “Pro Bono Is...” asked students to complete the sentence, “Pro Bono Is...” on a piece of pre-cut colored paper. Students’ responses were used to create a visual representation of what Pro Bono is to students at UNC Law. The old well was used as a backdrop for student responses, and the steps of the old well were made of the skills Pro Bono work gives students. Making the steps out of the skills language worked on numerous fronts. The final image represented the role of Pro Bono work in developing skills, which are the foundation of any legal practice.


            Students’ responses framed the old well image, and the answers were astonishing to me. What I expected from students were statements expressing how Pro Bono work complimented their professional growth, or allowed them to receive practical experience during law school. Some responses followed that line of answers, while others focused on the impact of Pro Bono’s on students’ personal lives. It was the latter responses that I will take with me after graduation. Pro Bono’s impact on the lives of students speaks to the heart of what Pro Bono really is, as well as the heart of Carolina Law. I could fill a whole blog post full of these responses, with answers like: “Pro Bono is...Life;” “Pro Bono is...the reason I sleep at night;” “Pro Bono those to whom much has been given, much is also expected in return;” and “Pro Bono is...a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.” These are only a small number of the responses, showing students’ passion and empathy for members of their community and providing unmet legal needs to people in need. These responses also get to the heart of the Pro Bono Program at UNC Law: showing our community that Pro Bono has the dual benefits of skill development and community betterment.


            Pro Bono Week is a celebration of the students, showcasing their hard work providing legal services to the people of North Carolina. We celebrate not only UNC Law students’ service, but the impact Pro Bono work has on students’ lives, and the lives of the people they help. It is a simple reminder that Pro Bono is everywhere; Pro Bono is for everyone; and in our global community we can make an impact on a large scale. 

Posted by Laura L. Kessler on Fri. February 19, 2016 12:14 PM
Categories: General
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