Law School: Pro bono work
Every law student should seek out opportunities to provide pro bono services to worthy causes. Pro bono is a shortened version of “pro bono publico,” which means “for the public good” in Latin. Most state legal bar associations require attorneys to provide a certain amount of pro bono services each year. As a potential lawyer or potential law student, you should consider it too. Pro bono work looks great for law school admissions and can compliment a modest LSAT testing score. And it looks wonderful on a resume once you complete law school.
Law students are not allowed to offer unsupervised legal services to clients. However, law students can provide assistance to charity groups and can provide some legal services under the tutelage of an approved attorney. Virtually all law schools offer various opportunities for students to volunteer time for worthy causes while gaining valuable real-world experience. As an added bonus, students often receive credits towards completing law school.
During the winter break of my 1L year, I joined a public service group from my law school on a week long trip to help impoverished Mississippi Delta residents. The school paid for the hotel and contributed to gas money, and we students had to pay the rest of our expenses. The problems were sweeping in scope, and it was amazing to see the layers of legal issues spanning decades.
Part of our volunteer work involved interviews with the dozens of clients in their homes. This work is far different from merely researching legal topics in the law sources. It felt incredible to sit face to face with these needy people, feel a connection with them, and to give them hope.
My first experience with legal pro bono work felt great. It was a great experience that I hope to repeat. Some students on the trip wish to eventually dedicate their lives to service organizations. I hope to include pro bono work as a significant portion of my private practice. Regardless of how you come to offering services to the neediest in society, participating in pro bono work makes our profession better. I highly recommend that you seek out service opportunities before, during, and following law school.
If you’re still decided which law school to apply to check out another great post for advice: Choosing a Law School: It’s More than Just a Numbers Game