5 Ways Attorneys Can Rack Up Pro Bono Hours

By Andrew Lu on November 19, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For many law firm attorneys, pro bono work may be the most rewarding type of work you get to perform.

Instead of staring at a computer screen and sifting through endless documents, pro bono work gives a lawyer an opportunity to do some good. The lawyer may actually get the opportunity to leave the office and have some face-time in front of a client. And unlike paper-pushing legal work, you can actually see how your work benefits a person.

Perhaps the best part of pro bono work? You may get some billable credit for your time. Here are five ideas for you to get started performing pro bono work (just make sure to run these by your superiors first to get their OK):

  1. Defending Criminals. You may have entered law school with the fantasy of defending criminal clients in court. But economic realities may have forced you into corporate law. By offering pro bono services for some criminal defendants, you may be able to get a taste of the courtroom drama, without having to give up your corner office.
  2. Helping the Poor. Any program to help the poor and destitute is popular for pro bono work. Look for opportunities to help out at volunteer tax clinics, asylum and immigration clinics, or with landlord-tenant disputes, just to name a few. There are non-profits in most areas devoted to some specific niche.
  3. Responding to Natural Disasters. In the wake of natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, there will be many people needing legal services. For example, individuals who've lost their homes to floods will need to know about their rights as they pursue insurance claims. Explore areas where people are suffering, and figure out how you can help them.
  4. Explain New Laws. New laws and regulations are passed all the time, though very few people understand these new laws besides the lawmakers who passed them. You can help work with affected individuals by explaining to them how the law works and what it means for their everyday lives.
  5. Work for Your Passion. Whether you want to help abused animals or help clean up the ocean, there may be some volunteer group or social justice program that can use your legal skills. Many organizations can use the help of an experienced attorney, and you may be able to help further a cause that you love.

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