Tag Archives: Pro Bono Work

Maximizing Career Potential Through Pro Bono Work: A Lawyer’s Guide

In the fast-paced legal world, finding time for pro bono work can be challenging, but the benefits are well worth it. The need for pro bono services is great, and those who lend their expertise free of charge to serve the greater good often find the work rewarding and satisfying, both professionally and personally.

In fact, it’s for these reasons that pro bono hours have been on the rise in the past several years. According to a recent study, overall pro bono hours have been on a steady climb, with 4.2 million hours in 2015 rising to 5.45 million hours in 2020​​. In 2022, the AmLaw 200 firms contributed about 5.01 million hours of pro bono work, a slight decrease from the 5.45 million hours in 2020 but an increase from 2021​​. This trend underscores the importance of pro bono work, and below we discuss in detail exactly why providing pro bono services can enhance one’s professional and personal development while also serving those in need.

Pro Bono Work: It Makes Us Happy
There is a Chinese saying: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” Throughout history, the greatest thinkers have suggested that happiness is found in helping others. This notion is supported by scientific research, including a study by Titova and Sheldon (2021) in The Journal of Positive Psychology, which found that efforts to make others happy can increase personal happiness more than focusing on oneself​​​​​​. Helping others may be the key to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.

Expanding Legal Expertise Through Pro Bono
Beyond serving the greater good, pro bono work is an opportunity for lawyers to diversify their experience and improve their skill set. It also gives lawyers the chance to pursue an area of law they are passionate about. Doing so will not only make you a more well-rounded attorney, but it will also better serve your existing clients by having an understanding of different types of matters and the different walks of life they come from. What’s more, pro bono work often gives younger attorneys more hands-on experience than their primary (paying) practice. For example, a litigator who has never argued in the courtroom or a corporate lawyer who has never directly drafted or negotiated contracts can take on pro bono cases to gain practical, first-hand experience. These experiences are crucial for skill development, especially for lawyers early on in their careers.

Networking and Team Building
Pro bono work is an effective strategy for building stronger bonds with colleagues and for broadening professional networks. Collaborating with colleagues from other practice areas/departments on pro bono matters can forge new relationships and strengthen camaraderie within an organization. Pro bono work can also connect lawyers from different organizations, expanding one’s professional network, which can prove invaluable for career development down the road.

Enhancing Brand Recognition, Law Firm Culture and Recruitment
Many lawyers today tell me they are looking for employers that prioritize corporate responsibility – which is the notion that a firm makes a concerted effort to operate in ways that enhance rather than degrade society and the environment. Pro bono work is one of the prime ways firms can achieve this. In fact, when evaluating law firms and attorneys to hire as outside counsel, many clients look favorably at those who have actionable social responsibility initiatives in place.

Leadership and Pro Bono
Strong pro bono involvement often leads to leadership opportunities. This is evident in the growing number of dedicated pro bono partner roles in law firms globally. As reported by the International Bar Association, there are now 66 examples of dedicated pro bono partner roles across 55 law firms worldwide​​.

The nature of pro bono work has evolved significantly over the last decade, with pro bono practices expanding in size and complexity, often operating across multiple jurisdictions and connected to humanitarian emergencies. This growth in pro bono partner roles reflects these trends and provides another avenue for leadership opportunities within firms​​.

Elevate Your Legal Career with Pro Bono Insights
In sum, providing pro bono services is not just the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do – for your career, your community, and your happiness. To truly excel in this profession, strategic choices are crucial. For personalized guidance on leveraging pro bono work to enhance your legal career, reach out to Lateral Link. Our team of experienced legal recruiters specializes in aligning lawyers’ career trajectories with their professional aspirations and personal values. Engaging with our experts offers a unique opportunity to explore how you can improve your professional development. Please reach out to us anytime for seasoned insights on how you can define and achieve your ideal career path.

Charting Your Course: An In-Depth Resource for Law Students Navigating Multiple Job Offers

Embarking on the journey of a law student entails numerous critical choices, of which, selecting among multiple summer associate or first-year associate propositions stands paramount. At Lateral Link, we appreciate the significance of this decision. Our crew of seasoned legal talent finders, many of whom have trodden the path of summer associates themselves, impart a profound knowledge base and guidance, empowering you to make an enlightened choice.

Assessing Law Firm Offers Beyond the Facade of Rankings

Though rankings may shed some light on a firm’s accomplishments, they can inadvertently offer a skewed perspective. Abby Gordon, co-director of our Northeast associate recruitment division and a past summer associate and associate at Cleary Gottlieb, articulates this concept as, “Choosing a firm transcends mere rankings. While the prestige of your first firm undeniably paves the way for future career opportunities, there is more to it. It equally revolves around identifying the perfect alignment for your ambitions, interests, and ethical values.” Scrutinizing a firm’s work environment, stability, and resonance with your career aspirations is indispensable. For further insights on firm selection, refer to Abby’s counsel in a past ATL piece.

Holistic Evaluation of Influencing Variables

“Approach your opportunities with a comprehensive perspective, taking into account your immediate and long-term personal and professional objectives,” recommends Matt Bennett, a California-based Lateral Link recruiter, USC Gould School of Law graduate, and previous summer associate at Snell & Wilmer. “I consistently encourage candidates to strategize their thinking, to not just fixate on whether they fancy a firm’s current practice, and this mindset can be immensely beneficial to newly minted attorneys fresh from law school. Delve into the firm’s culture, geographical presence, practice domains, mentorship programs, benefits, work-life equilibrium, partnership prospects, hourly obligations, remuneration, and incentives. Consider the professional relationships that you can cultivate in the firm and their potential trajectory. These are critical considerations, especially when you are just initiating your legal career and lack the foresight that experience gifts. Extend your thinking beyond macro-level professional objectives: contemplate how the attributes of a firm might facilitate your short and long-term personal and lifestyle objectives. Endeavor to envision your evolving work and life aspirations as time progresses,” Bennett elaborates. Scrutinize whether the firm champions diversity, nurtures a collegial atmosphere, and offers pro bono opportunities, particularly if these aspects are valuable to you.

Tailored Guidance from Lateral Link Recruiters

Our recruiters understand the intricacies involved in choosing between multiple offers. “Lateral Link’s team consists of past attorneys and law firm recruiters. We can offer personalized advice drawn from our market knowledge, firm-specific intel, and industry connections,” shares Amy Langan, Manager of Professional Development & Law School Relations. To encourage a comprehensive dialogue about your career trajectory, Lateral Link extends a complimentary 15-minute discussion to address law students’ queries and offer direction.

The Impact of Your First Law Firm

Your inaugural law firm can exert a substantial impact on your legal career’s trajectory. To demonstrate this, Gloria Cannon, our Managing Principal, recites her experience from her law school OCI tenure:

“After deliberating offers from numerous Am Law 200 firms, I chose to spend my 2L summer at Milbank’s LA office, where I was exposed to corporate, real estate, litigation, and bankruptcy/financial restructuring practices. After my law school graduation, I joined Milbank’s financial restructuring team due to its esteemed reputation, cordial culture, and the size of the group, which allowed me to swiftly take on significant responsibilities with extensive client interactions.

One of our primary clients was Oaktree Capital Management, a distinguished Los Angeles-based asset management firm, for whom I executed a considerable amount of work. Consequently, during my 5th year, Oaktree’s General Counsel directly invited me to join their in-house legal team. I wouldn’t have encountered this fantastic in-house opportunity had I not been a summer associate at Milbank.”

This anecdote underlines the delicate dynamics involved in deciding between multiple offers – the decision transcends the work type and encapsulates firm culture, training, and long-term career opportunities.

Deciding on Your Legal Career’s Initial Steps

The decision should reflect your career ambitions, personal values, and lifestyle preferences. While mentors, professors, and recruiters can extend guidance, the ultimate decision rests with you. “Refrain from focusing on prestige or peer choices. Prioritize the decision that best aligns with your future goals. Apart from the numerous variables to consider, trust your intuition when assessing firms and the lawyers you have interacted with during interviews or over the summer,” advises Langan, a former recruiter for multiple Am Law 200 firms.

Perceiving the Broader Career Landscape

The path to a triumphant legal career comprises diverse opportunities. Each decision you make contributes to your comprehensive career evolution. While the choice of your first firm is unquestionably critical, it is merely one of the many vital decisions that will sculpt your legal career.

Lateral Link recruiters are dedicated to assisting law students in navigating multiple offer decisions. We are at your side throughout this journey, ensuring your choices align with your career objectives and personal ethics, enabling you to make the most advantageous choice for your future legal profession.

If you wish to connect with one of our recruiters to discuss your offer options, please contact Amy Langan at alangan@laterallink.com or via LinkedIn.