When I feel overwhelmed, I find a pro bono case.” Is this the opposite of what you might expect to hear? This lawyer said that the ability to step back and look at something new and different meant they provided better service to their paying clients. Who doesn’t want that?
Pro Bono week is October 24-30, and the national theme is Moving Forward in a Post-Pandemic World. Minnesota initiatives are at ProJusticeMn, and ProJusticeMN. As LCL pivots to support our profession as we encounter an ever-changing new normal, we emphasize the importance of putting your own well-being and mental health at the top of your priority list. Here are some ways pro bono work helps with our well-being – this includes strong relationships, a sense of purpose, and building resilience.
Relationships. Pro Bono can help you advance your career by providing a conduit to those who might be passionate about the same things you are and to those who could mentor and support you as you move forward. You can develop new skills, demonstrate them to others, and build confidence. Perhaps the most meaningful connection is with those you help.
Purpose. Unlike much of our paid work, many pro bono cases are relatively brief so that we can feel a sense of purpose and achievement upon completion. Some cases are much more complex. One lawyer noted that each time they returned to a major pro bono case, it was a breath of fresh air, and they were confident that their work made a human difference. Either way, if, like most, you became a lawyer to make a difference and to help people, pro bono work will often be your most direct connection to that purpose.
Resilience. Resilience strategies, including meaning, perspectives, boundaries, flexible optimism, and gratitude, have long been shown to help people bounce back from adversity, and all are available through pro bono work. In addition, research shows that people who volunteer have lower blood pressure, better immunity, and are more satisfied in life. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated that “a lawyer will gain large satisfaction when he or she is not simply a fee-charging artisan, but a contributor to the public good.”
Yes, pro bono is for the public good and for yours.