As an attorney, doing pro bono work is one of the best ways to burnish your image, attract new clients and place your practice in good standing within your profession.
Even though thousands of people seek free legal help every day, not all pro bono opportunities are created equal. For example, lower-income people generally need help with common problems, such as fighting the welfare agency for being refused benefits, bankruptcy, divorce, custody, getting help with medical issues, and more.
Those kinds of services are routinely handled by Legal Aid. They don’t tend to offer the more meaty cases that can truly showcase the high level of skill and expertise you can bring to a complicated legal problem. On the other hand, taking on these cases is encouraged by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Speaking of the ABA, it is an excellent resource for finding high-quality pro bono work in your community. You’ll find links that point to numerous opportunities to get involved in pro bono work on its website.
The ABA also has a program called the Volunteer Legal Project. It was established in 1986 to help lawyers “fulfill their professional obligation” to provide legal services to numerous clients in matters related to various issues.
The ABA also sponsors the Immigrant Child Advocacy Network (ICAN) program. It connects pro bono attorneys with tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors in the U.S. awaiting legal proceedings about their residency status.
Another excellent ABA program is the Military Pro Bono Project. This effort is different from other veteran legal service providers because it serves active-duty service members, many of whom are deployed overseas in active duty zones.
Don’t forget overseas opportunities for pro bono work. The ABA Justice Defenders Program is an opportunity to practice remote legal work, in-country litigation, perform trial observation missions and provide strategic legal advice. A lot of this work involves defending human rights cases.
There is a significant need for pro bono lawyers to work on reentry cases. This involves helping people who have recently been released from prison. They tend to face numerous legal challenges, many of them no fault of their own, but which prevent them from successfully transitioning to everyday life as good citizens with prison records.