[Adapted and Reprinted from San Francisco Attorney, Summer 2018]
We know that law is a challenging profession and it can take a toll on your physical and emotional health, but volunteering even just a little bit of your time will bring you emotional satisfaction and balance. Call it pro bono for the soul.
Now, you are a lawyer. As such, chances also are that you are busy—really busy—with a full schedule. We understand that you may not have time to build a new program, figure out what your various options are, or even explore where to begin in the first place. The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) has already done all of this for you.
Over the next three months, we will be highlighting just three examples, starting with:
You can help keep someone housed and off the streets by spending just one afternoon with a tenant facing eviction. At JDC’s settlement conference clinic, volunteers negotiate with the landlords’ attorney and try to work out an agreement in the best interests of the individual.
We know that tenants facing eviction fare far better in the process when represented by counsel, and yet there simply are not enough lawyers to meet the need here. You need not be an eviction law expert or even know anything about the subject. JDC will provide close supervision and guidance. What these clients need most is a voice, someone who can understand and then advocate for what they need.
You can do this, and it will make a difference. In San Francisco, this is the front line in the battle against homelessness. And, here’s all it will take: two hours of training and four hours of volunteering. (You may also want to schedule some extra time to receive thanks from a very grateful client whose home you save.) That’s it. Just show up and we will show you how.
Upcoming Housing Negotiation Project trainings:
To sign up or learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org:.
And, since you are a lawyer, we will cover some of the technicalities here just so there are no questions (or excuses):
JDC has malpractice insurance for its volunteers. JDC also provides training and constant support for its volunteers. And, you can rest assured that you will not be the first person to volunteer for these programs, and they have been running successfully for years.
The upshot is this: your community needs you, and we have ready-made opportunities for you to help your fellow San Franciscans and yourself in the process. Just show up, learn a little, and do what you do every day: advocate for a deserving client.
You can see many of the opportunities available at www.sfbar.org/probono-menu. See what interests you the most, reach out to our staff and schedule a time to volunteer. Yes, by doing this, you will be helping JDC and its clients, but you will also be helping yourself by doing something rewarding and promoting your own emotional health.
Malcolm A. Heinicke is the 2018 president of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice & Diversity Center. A partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, his practice focuses on employment and complex commercial litigation, particularly in class and collective actions and employee mobility matters.