NEW - Judge Lisa Wilson, Chair of the Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, has released a Call for Justice 2021 article. To read, click here.
Judge Wilson raises great points that go to the core of why each of us should consider undertaking some pro bono work this year. The reasons for doing so are compelling every year. This year such reasons are only heightened with the COVID-19 pandemic, episodes of social unrest, and the renewed quest for equality and justice for all. There are also positive factors you may consider when reviewing pro bono opportunities. One such factor includes the ability to educate a fellow citizen or resident about our legal system. More than anyone else, only an attorney can help those in need of legal counsel or representation feel a part of the legal process. Without your involvement, such persons in need will find themselves alone and lost in the hallways of a courthouse or the offices of a government agency. Another factor is that you may learn just as much or more from your pro bono client. Your interactions with your pro bono client will educate you about life experiences that you may not have previously experienced, felt, known, or understood. Another plus is that you have a chance to not only collaborate with your pro bono client, but also consult and share insights with the excellent attorneys and staff at Prairie State Legal Service, PILI, and our PCBA members who are career pro bono counsel volunteers. Each of them are simply amazing.
Practical reasons also support reviewing pro bono assignments, especially if you are a firm leader. Many new attorney recruits ask if your firm or office promotes pro bono opportunities. New attorneys will notice if your firm or office has an active pro bono program. Moreover, your new recruits will have the opportunity to learn new skills while receiving your supervision and input from the assigning attorneys, personnel, and staff. Each of us also know that after taking and completing a pro bono assignment, we are reminded why we decided to start practicing law -- to help people. Upon completing such an assignment, you receive a sense of personal and professional self-fulfillment that is real. You will find it impossible to replicate that feeling in any other context. Please reach out this year and design a pro-bono commitment or plan that works for you and your practice. You will help others and yourself in the process. Let’s encourage each other and make the PCBA one of the leaders in providing and supporting pro bono legal services.
Ambrose V. McCall