Business and Pro Bono: How Volunteerism Benefits Students Considering the Private Sector

We all know that pro bono work is “the right thing to do.” But in the private sector, with the stress of billing valuable time and minding the bottom line, many attorneys shrug off the thought of volunteering.
But Roy S. Ginsburg, an attorney coach from the Twin Cities, says that there is a strong case for pro bono in the business world, and that civic engagement can expand both an attorney’s client base and a firm’s profit margin.
He points out that pro bono can greatly enhance lawyers’ legal skills. Pro bono offers the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients one may otherwise not encounter. It enhances communication skills, and perhaps above all, builds confidence for new, inexperienced lawyers.
Ginsburg suggests that pro bono also helps lawyers attract paying clients. For example, an attorney wishing to specialize in environmental law may find lucrative environmental litigation by demonstrating success in environmental pro bono work.
The Citizen Lawyer Program connects law students with numerous volunteer projects whose skills transfer directly to the private sector. For example, opportunities to work with self-represented bankruptcy litigants and assist with income tax preparation provide students with hands-on experience and the chance to sharpen their skills well before graduation. We also place students with self-represented divorce litigants, legal aid, and a wide variety of public offices.  We encourage all students, regardless of their legal interest, to participate in career-building pro bono work in law school and beyond.

*Information courtesy of: Ginsburg, Roy S. “Pro Bono Makes Cents: Making the Business Case for Pro Bono.” Bench & Bar of Minnesota Vol. 62, No. 7 (August 2005).  See also Mr.  Ginsburg’s website.

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