The term pro bono comes from the Latin pro bono publico, which means “for the public good.” Many law professionals find time to help others with pro bono services. However, it seems that there are never enough experienced lawyers to cover the need for legal representation for low-income people.
Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law produces practice-ready attorneys who, in the spirit of Isaiah 1:17, yearn to serve their neighbors and seek justice for the most vulnerable among us.
Why is it essential to make time for helping pro bono clients and non-profits?
The American Bar Association (ABA) and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct state that lawyers should “render–without fee–at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year, with an emphasis that these services be provided to people of limited means or non-profit organizations that serve the poor.” Lawyers providing pro bono legal services to those in need is essential because “lawyers have the special skills and knowledge needed to secure access to justice for low-income people, whose enormous unmet legal needs are well-documented.”
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation, put out a report in 2017 that “explores the ‘justice gap,’ the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs in 2017.”
This report shows:
- In the past year, 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help.
- 71% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the last year. This includes problems with health care, housing conditions, disability access, veterans’ benefits, and domestic violence.
- In 2017, low-income Americans will approach LSC-funded legal aid organizations for support with an estimated 1.7 million problems. They will receive limited or no legal help for more than half of these problems due to lack of resources.
Now, more than ever, there is a great need for inexpensive or pro bono legal representation within our communities. Because of this need, our post-graduates are greatly encouraged to provide pro bono services and to help non-profit groups.
Even though the values instilled in our students drive them to serve altruistically, there are also unintended benefits to helping pro bono clients after they graduate.
Helping pro bono clients and non-profits will help you develop skills as a lawyer
One reason it is crucial to seek pro bono clients after you graduate is so you can gain valuable experience. By taking on a variety of pro bono clients and helping various non-profit groups, law school graduates can develop skills, network with seasoned law professionals, and explore a wide variety of law areas. You may even become passionate about a new area of law.
According to the ABA, there are plenty of reasons for law school graduates to seek pro bono opportunities:[C]onsider the opportunity to develop your skills and gain confidence in your capacity to advocate others while working to deliver assistance, empowerment, and justice to a client, community, or cause. In doing so, you will greatly enhance your understanding of the legal system, its strengths, and its pitfalls, while at the same time learning about yourself as a lawyer. These experiences will help you understand the best fit for your career. In addition, you will distinguish yourself in the job market. Employers are interested in who you are, what you have achieved in law school, and what skills you bring to their organization or firm. Pro bono is one of the most effective ways to develop your lawyering skills.
Faulkner Law’s Public Interest Program
Along with instilling the importance of aiding those in need and contributing to their communities, Faulkner Law’s Public Interest Program has three goals: to provide students with opportunities for service, to reward students for contributing to their communities, and to facilitate the placement of students in public interest careers. Being located in the Capital City of Montgomery, AL, home to the Alabama Supreme Court, Federal Defender’s Office, Alabama Attorney General’s Office, and countless other state departments, law students have the unique opportunity to gain experience, no matter their chosen field of legal service.
Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law is a small, Christian law school in Montgomery, Alabama with a mission to provide students with a unique advantage through the rigorous curriculum and hands-on experience. While providing an education anchored by not only intellect but also character and service, Faulkner’s Jones School of Law seeks students who will not only succeed academically but who also have a desire to use their legal degree to seek justice and serve their communities – wherever that may be. Contact Faulkner Law today at (334) 386-7910.