Whether you are a legal student or a working professional, you would have come across the request for voluntary work. Also known as pro bono, it is a part of law work experience.
Legal services are expensive in the country. Not everyone can afford to avail of the necessary support in their times of need.
It is the reason why universities and law firms encourage students and professionals to take up pro bono work.
What Is Pro Bono?
Pro bono finds its origin in the Latin phrase Pro Bono Publico. When translated into English, it means ‘for the public good’. It refers to the legal services that lawyers offer at reduced prices or for free to the people who need them.
For students, it could also mean helping law clinics for their research and giving a presentation in schools.
How Can You Offer Pro Bono Services?
You can find a pro bono committee in almost all state and local bar associations. They primarily work with the lower-income section of the society who cannot afford legal services.
Similarly, several public interest law organizations also offer such support in the interest of the common public.
As a lawyer, you can offer your services at these committees and take up cases that come to them. Another option is to work independently and take up causes that are the closest to your heart.
Apart from making a positive contribution to your society, pro bono cases can also give your career a much-needed boost. Let’s look at this in detail.
How Does Pro Bono Work Advance Your Career?
Get Relevant Experience
When you work with a big law firm like, you won’t get to interact with clients at the beginning of your career.
At best, you will work under the shadows of other senior lawyers and help them in research using the best legal research software. It is a learning curve that most legal professionals have to go through.
When you work pro bono, you get the opportunity to interact with your clients. As this happens, you will understand the nuances of communication and client-management early in your career.
Moreover, you will get to use your judgment independently and learn about your weak areas.
Apart from honing your skills, you can also get a chance at managing litigation in courts. In some cases, you may be required to manage the case from beginning to end. Most law firms reserve this for seasoned professionals.
As you work, you will also get hands-on experience in different aspects of litigation. For instance, research, interviews, witness preparation, and hearings. It
Add Experience To Your Resume
Pro bono activity is real work that can add more weight to your CV. It is an experience that shows your commitment to your chosen field.
It is also the reason why HR professionals at legal firms prefer to see pro bono experience on the resumes of candidates. Since it helps you in expanding your knowledge and enhancing your legal skills, most firms prefer it over additional qualifications.
If you are a law student, there is nothing better that will shine as much in your resume. It will help you in applying the theoretical knowledge that you learn in college.
Make Relevant Contacts
Since it is a comparatively smaller world when you are in this profession, you need to network. When you volunteer for legal work, you make new contacts and get to know your peers in the field.
Building a large network of contacts is a great strategy for furthering your law career: you never know when knowing the right person may come handy.
For instance, they may refer you to their organizations in your time of need. These contacts can also be of help if you have to move cities and are struggling to find a new job.
Shows Your Commitment
If there is one quality that all prospective employers appreciate in this field, it is your dedication towards your clients. You will be able to assist them and make a winning case only when you have an innate calling to help your clients.
When you work on pro bono cases, you demonstrate your commitment and personal involvement in helping people. Apart from that, it is a sign that you are serious about your work and are keen to learn and grow.
Helps You Make The Right Career Choice
When you work in the legal profession, your work becomes your life. More often than not, you will be working long hours. If you aren’t passionate about working in the legal field, you may find it challenging to work with dedication.
When you work on pro bono cases, you get the opportunity to work on different streams like criminal law, family law, intellectual property law, etc.
As you work, you will gain more clarity about what you want to do in your future. For this reason, the earlier that you start working on pro bono cases, the better it is for your career.
You may need a break from the regular nine to five job at some point. Taking up pro bono cases will let you work at your own pace without the hustle-bustle and pressure of corporate life.
When you work on pro bono cases, you aren’t just aimlessly combing through a westlaw review – you meet people who are going through tough times in their personal life.
As you work closely on their cases, you learn the crucial skill of counseling your clients. You get to see how transient life can be.
Moreover, you will pick up the qualities of flexibility and resilience. These are essential lessons that will help you in living a more grateful and happy life.
There are good chances that you will start appreciating your life more. Moreover, you will get satisfaction from your job when it allows you to work those in need.
The American Bar Association encourages all lawyers to give at least 50 hours to pro bono work per year. It can help you develop skills and enhance your knowledge outside of your regular job.
Apart from being the ethical thing to do, pro bono cases allow you to take charge and lead from the front, thus giving your career a boost.