Are you a lawyer or considering becoming one? If that’s the case, you should consider public service and give back to the community, says Deanna Deveney.
“One thing you learn quickly in law school is just how complicated our legal system is,” Ms. Deveney points out. “Once you get up to speed, the law system makes a lot more sense, but it’s important to remember that folks without legal training may struggle to make heads or tails of the legal system.”
Unfortunately, if people are not trained in the legal system and don’t have a lawyer, that can put them at a huge disadvantage. This is true in both civil and criminal cases. Legal advice is also very valuable outside of the courtroom. Many lawyers work extensively on contracts, including agreements between businesses, drafting wills, and determining ownership of various things.
The American Bar Association recommends that lawyers donate at least 50 hours of free legal services per year. In practice, it’s wise for lawyers to offer even more “pro bono” service. Legal advice can go a long way toward making society a better place. Access to proper legal advice and services is one of the starkest and most important differences between the so-called haves and have-nots.
“Many folks probably first think of courtrooms when they think of lawyers,” notes Deanna Deveney. “But court cases are only one of many factors. Without legal advice, that startup business you founded could end up in hot water over unfavorable contract terms. Likewise, benefactors may struggle to equitably divide up estates after someone passes.”
By providing free services, lawyers can have a huge impact on people who can’t afford to hire a top-notch lawyer. The advice and services offered by a lawyer could dramatically alter someone’s life for the better. That said, offering free services also provides some benefits for the attorney.
Deanna Deveney Notes That Volunteering Benefits Attorneys Too
The main focus of public service for attorneys should be helping those in need. That said, offering pro bono services can benefit attorneys in several ways. Your volunteer work could not only help those in need now, but it may also bolster your career.
“Practice is really important in law, and helping people is excellent practice,” Ms. Deveney says. “You’ll also further your knowledge in many cases. Often, when you’re working on legal issues, you study the legal system quite extensively.”
Lawyers also shouldn’t overlook how important social networking and referrals are. If you help someone with a legal issue today, they might return as paying clients. They might also pass on your contact info to friends and family who need legal help and can afford to pay. Winning cases also help lawyers build credibility.