We’re sharing updated resources and events to help you participate in National Pro Bono Celebration from October 24 – 30, 2021.
Pro bono work isn’t just a professional responsibility and individual ethical commitment for each lawyer — it’s a worthwhile time investment to make. Volunteers are more satisfied by work than nonvolunteers, according to recent research. According to additional recent research, volunteer work influences health and longevity, too. Pro bono work is also an opportunity to network, and develop and exercise your legal skills. Read more about gaining experience through pro bono work in this guest post from several years back from a Massachusetts lawyer starting out on work with the Volunteer Lawyers Project. Other benefits of pro bono work are described in this article from the Minnesota LCL, including feeling a sense of purpose and achievement:
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.
For 2021’s National Celebration of Pro Bono, the ABA is highlighting increasing need for pro bono services with the theme ‘Moving Forward in a Post-Pandemic World’. Last month, the ABA issued call for lawyers to commit to pro bono for the rest of the year to help with extraordinary need for legal assistance, “from the eviction crisis arising from the COVID pandemic, to assistance for refugees from Afghanistan and Haiti as well as other areas, to the legal issues arising from natural disasters.” Find more here, including an invitation to participate from ABA President Reginald Turner. “The Celebration is an opportunity to connect pro bono providers and attorneys across the nation and to showcase the incredible difference that pro bono lawyers make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities, and most of all, to the clients they serve,” as noted by probono.net.
For lawyers in Massachusetts, MassProBono is an interactive website that can match you with a project based on your interests, location, and schedule. Through the website, “you can find pro bono opportunities that fit your interests and schedule, and find resources – a library, email groups, training opportunities – to support your pro bono work.” Find out more about joining MassProBono here. To help with your pro bono projects, MassProBono also provides a library of resources, email groups, and a calendar of events. Last year, MassProBono announced the Massachusetts COVID-19 Pro Bono Portal, an initiative of MassProBono and the Pro Bono Committee of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s COVID-19 Task Force, which collaborated with legal aid and non-profit organizations throughout the state to create a current list of pro bono projects, many of which are remote, that will assist legal aid clients impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In raising awareness of the need for pro bono work and highlighting great existing pro bono work in the state, MassProBono hopes to close the gap of an estimated 80% of low-income people with unmet civil legal needs. Still, for many of us, having time to volunteer might feel like a privilege. If you feel you don’t have time to spare for pro bono work as a lawyer with a full schedule of personal and professional demands, consider finding more on setting boundaries here, more on time management here, and other productivity tips here. Avana Epperson-Temple, a litigation attorney at the Boston-based law firm Peabody & Arnold, discusses volunteerism and work-life balance in Episode 2: Pathways of the Women of Color: Legal Diaries, hosted by Massachusetts lawyer Naitasia V. Hensey.
LOCAL EVENTS FOR 2021
Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards Ceremony – Tuesday, October 26 (4pm). This program will be presented live online at https://boston.suffolk.edu/sjc/, the same Suffolk University Law School webpage that is used to present oral arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court.
How to Be a Successful Pro Bono Attorney – Thursday, October 28 (4pm). Hosted by the Boston Bar Association. View other Pro Bono Month Events from the BBA here. You can also find more Upcoming (and Past) Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs from the BBA here.
MBA’s Dial-A-Lawyer Program – Year-round opportunity. Monthly program organized by the Massachusetts Bar Association, “Dial-A-Lawyer offers a terrific opportunity for attorneys looking for a pro bono activity that fits well with their busy schedules and can be done from their own home or office. If you are interested in volunteering for an upcoming Dial-A-Lawyer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers will be provided with a link, username, password, detailed instructions and updated resources before each monthly program.”
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Previous annual posts highlighting National Pro Bono Week now redirect to this post.