It is important that all of us attorneys strive to incorporate pro bono work into our practices. Although doing so in a solo or small firm practice setting presents some unique challenges, it is not only possible to do, but can be beneficial to your practice in multiple ways.
For my own pro bono work in my solo practice, I have taken on detained immigration cases in order to get court experience that I usually do not get from my regular cases. Taking certain pro bono cases also can lead to other people referring paid clients to us, and helps us obtain good testimonials from clients who are pleased with our work. Another benefit of taking on pro bono cases is that it allows you to network with other practitioners and also to get your name out there as a respectable attorney in that area of law. In addition, it allows you to seek out mentors and other resources that can help you with the case and also in growing your own practice.
A great way to obtain pro bono cases is to get them from BASF’s Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) programs and other established organizations like Centro Legal de la Raza. When taking on new pro bono cases, it is best to have a limited scope in the event the case escalates to a much more complicated matter. This is particularly important in a solo or small firm practice, given the limit of resources and on-going obligations to other clients. It is important to be extra deliberate about setting aside time for pro bono work since you will have responsibilities to both your paid and pro bono clients.
Taking on pro bono cases is a great way to learn new things and to deepen your understanding of the area of law you are working in. By taking cases through more established organizations, you are provided with resources and interpreters. On the other hand, if you cannot find the time to take on full scope cases, you should definitely consider pro bono clinics that run for 2-4 hours to get your feet wet!
Jason Yee is an immigration and business attorney with the Law Office of Jason K. Yee. He helps both individuals and businesses with solving their legal needs.