V-Day for Law Students: Fall in Love With Pro Bono Work

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on February 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This Valentine's Day, law students in the Eighth Circuit should rekindle their flame with humanity. Go ahead, take a break from fretting about your classes and job prospects, and show some love to your community.

Plus, it's the gift that keeps on giving. You may not realize it, but doing pro bono work can improve your job prospects.

How's that for a socially acceptable love affair?

Why Heart Pro Bono Work?

Life in the legal world is like being in a long-term relationship. It takes work, passion, and patience.

Here are five reasons to fall in love with the pro bono world:

  1. You can learn something new. Lest your monogamous relationship with the law goes stale, keep things fresh by volunteering in a realm that you're interested in but haven't yet tried out.
  2. You can meet new people. When you're in a specialized field, faces become familiar. Where's the romance in "interfacing" with the usual crowd? Fortunately, pro bono opportunities cross sector boundaries. Get out there, meet new people, and broaden your horizons. Who knows, maybe you'll meet your future Valentine.
  3. You can fall in love with the lofty side of law. If you're fatigued by your externship or doc review, rekindle your love affair with the law by volunteering for a cause you're passionate about. It's a great way to recharge and remember why you went to law school in the first place.
  4. You can serve people who need your help. Law school feels so distant from clients. Direct interaction with real people is a great way to reestablish an emotional connection to your studies.
  5. You can do your duty. The American Bar Association encourages law students and attorneys to invest their time and skills to causes beyond themselves. Valentine's Day is a great time to start paying it forward.

What Activities Count?

For a list of possible pro bono opportunities, check out the ABA's pro bono program directory. The key is to do the work without receiving a fee or earning academic credit.

For example, you can rack up pro bono hours by joining any of the following efforts:

  • non-profit agencies that serve low-income clients;
  • organizations that primarily promote the interests of the poor;
  • groups or individuals devoted to securing and protecting civil rights;
  • governmental entities;
  • K-12 legal education projects;
  • general charitable or community-oriented groups;
  • legal profession enrichment and betterment projects; and
  • pro bono project management (credit for leading, organizing, and coordinating pro bono projects).

You'll be surprised by how much pleasure and fulfillment doing pro bono work brings. Take it from Dana Tapper, a then-law student recognized by Ellen DeGeneres for her commitment to public service.

Happy Valentine's Week! Cupid's going to love you for this, you benevolent go-getter, you.

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