The Power of Pro Bono for Law Students
This week, we are excited to welcome the University of Baltimore School of Law onto Paladin’s platform! UB Law has a tradition of public interest and giving back, and each summer supports internships for students to contribute to their community. But pro bono not only helps clients in need; it is also a powerful tool for students to grow. Here are five benefits of pro bono for law students:
1. Build skills
Studying law and practicing it are two different things, and pro bono work gives students a great opportunity to get hands-on experience. Oftentimes, volunteer cases will be the first time students work directly with clients, prepare for court, or draft real legal documents. By developing and practicing new skills in a real-world setting, students can build their experience and gain confidence.
2. Gain exposure to new areas
Some students start law school with an idea of what type of law they want to practice, but most are unsure. Working on pro bono cases in different legal areas can give you a flavor of the typical day-to-day for a certain type of case or expertise, helping you narrow down practice area options.
3. Fulfill a professional responsibility (or in NY, a requirement!)
New York State is the only state that requires students complete 50 hours of pro bono to be admitted to the bar, but the American Bar Association recommends that attorneys aspire to 50 hours per year as part of a lawyer’s professional responsibility (check out ABA Model Rule 6.1). Pro bono is a great way to get ahead of the curve and cultivate a record of pro bono before joining the professional world.
4. Expand your network
Since law students need supervision while working on cases, doing pro bono is a natural way to meet experienced attorneys, expand your network, and develop relationships with local firms and organizations. Those relationships can be valuable in landing internships, getting recommendations, or finding a job.
5. Make a difference
Lawyers and law students are in a unique position to use their skills to change others’ lives. Last summer, UB students helped expunge criminal records, contribute to policy research, and assist on domestic violence cases, to name a few, making a tangible impact in their communities!
Law students, what’s been your experience with pro bono? Want to step it up? Join Paladin to learn about opportunities near you, and reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas!