Wednesday, October 28, 2015

YLD President's Message: Pro Bono for the Soul

By Dara Cooley

I have a confession. While working late into the night, plowing through page after page of tedious documents, I have muttered these words: “I have no life.” And assuming, dear reader, that you are a fellow young lawyer, I am confident you have muttered those words, too.

It doesn’t have to be this way.
We, as young lawyers, are blessed: Though most of us do not appreciate it, we have careers that allow us to not only make a living but, more importantly, an opportunity— in fact, a responsibility — to give. Remember your Oath as an Attorney: “I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice.”

Pro bono work — giving — is good for your soul ... and for your career. Pro bono work provides young lawyers valuable experiences and opportunities to hone their skills for the future. Generally, young litigators in traditional law firms won’t realize these important benefits through paid work. Yet, reputable law firms and partners often encourage pro bono work by giving associates credit toward year-end goals. These partners understand that profit is not the only bottom line in a law firm. Instead, they promote multiple bottom lines ― health, wellness, and pro bono service.

Pro bono work provides experience in a wider range of subject matters than standard commercial litigation, including face-to-face contact with clients and opportunities to craft and refine interviewing, counseling, and negotiating skills.

Community service makes betters lawyers. It’s that simple.

The American Bar Association deemed the last week of October as “National Pro Bono Celebration.” The Young Lawyers Division has done our part to celebrate and promote community service and pro bono work. At our quarterly luncheon on October 22, we hosted more than 10 pro bono groups and provided a platform for each to share information about their services to the community. Among the participants were Crossroads for Florida Kids, Wills for Heroes, Are You Safe, Bay Area Legal Services, Guardian ad Litem, H.E.L.P (Homeless Experience Legal Project), and the HCBA Military Veterans Advocacy Clinic. Young lawyers left armed with information to make a difference.

The YLD supports pro bono all year long. As Katelyn Desrosiers, the Pro Bono Committee chair, notes: “Lawyers are able to provide a benefit to the community that may not otherwise be available. It enables lawyers to meet other likeminded members of the profession. Most importantly, it allows our profession the opportunity to give back to those less fortunate and really change outside perceptions of judicial system. I always leave a pro bono session feeling genuinely happy and renewed.”

Please contact Pro Bono Committee Chairs Katelyn Desrosiers,, or Ella Shenhav,, for further information about pro bono opportunities.