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Pro bono work to a lawyer is like food to the soul. It provides an opportunity to do good because you can, with no strings attached and no expectations. You’re afforded a chance to help those most vulnerable in our society who need legal representation, but cannot afford it. New and seasoned lawyers who routinely do pro bono legal work find their other work becomes more satisfying. It’s human nature, says founder A. Harrison Barnes. “We’re programmed to reach out when we see others struggling”. That might be true, but there are those who are also programmed to earn as much money as possible during the course of their legal careers – so how can you balance what your lifestyle demands with what your conscience knows is the right thing to do? And maybe more importantly, how do you know you’re doing it for the right reasons? The founder provides perspective below.

First, don’t overanalyze your motivation. Even if you start out with the goal of amping up your resume or to add more contacts to your network, the bottom line is you’re making a difference and those clients are simply looking for help out of a situation that requires your legal expertise. You’ll learn of the other more important benefits as you progress through a pro bono case. In other words, you may have different motives in the beginning, but ultimately, you’ll discover those other emotions like compassion, a deep-rooted sense of doing what’s right and a genuine desire to help.

Another important consideration, says A. Harrison Barnes, can be found simply by looking at the statistics. Some studies suggest more than 30% of the population couldn’t pay a retainer if they suddenly found themselves needing representation. That’s significant and is a wake up call for many lawyers. Too many times, when you’re juggling several clients, it’s easy to forget the others in your community whose needs are just as legitimate as those who can pay the fees.

Finally, and especially if you’re a seasoned legal professional, your actions just might be an inspiration to a younger attorney who’s watching your moves closely; not because he’s suspicious, but because he’s looking to see what drives his mentor. There’s no better way to set an example than to give freely of your time. It’s an incentive for other attorneys to follow suit, says Barnes. In the great scheme of things, the few hours you provide free of cost can change another’s life forever. It might be a father now has more time with the children he shares with an ex wife or it could be that a victim will find courage and strength as a result of your efforts.

Whatever your motivations are initially, keeping an open mind will get you to where you need to be, which is much better for the experience and maybe even a bit wiser.

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