The Importance of Legal Volunteers

Reese Jones
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There’s no denying that donating your time and energies through volunteerism is one of the most fulfilling ways to develop important skills through new experiences. Guest contributor Amy Muldoon recently documented about how volunteering will reward you with a sense of purpose, in addition to a certain gratitude that comes with supporting a worthy cause. The selfless desire to help a person or a community without financial gain is certainly reflected in the legal sector. Indeed, pro bono work is a long-standing hallmark of the legal profession. Hundreds of people from all over the world have benefited from lawyers who voluntarily provide their skills and expertise without payment (or at the very least, at a reduced fee). 

Volunteering for charities

For the most part, charitable organizations are non-profit entities that draw key support from various fundraising activities and extensive volunteer work. For instance, London-based charity Fair Trials International offers regular internships in the fields of Law Reform, External Relations, and Direct Assistance. These positions provide tremendous opportunities for aspiring lawyers to gain valuable insights into the realities of international justice for their future professional careers. Additionally, the same charity continues to work with lawyers from esteemed firms such as Edwards Wildman, Clifford Chance, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Royal Bank of Scotland to give people practical advice and information about their rights.

The power of volunteer lawyers

There are numerous examples of legal volunteers leaving an impact in different parts of the world. The Volunteer Lawyers Network is an independent pro bono organization that provides a wide range of legal services to low-income citizens of the greater Minneapolis area. From helping parents obtain custody of their children to preventing unlawful evictions and illegal garnishment, the Volunteer Lawyers Network relies on a dedicated network of private practice attorneys to protect the basic human needs of Minnesotans. In 2013 alone, the Volunteer Lawyers Network worked closely with 800 volunteer attorneys to provide 10,325 legal services to a total of 21,289 clients, including 8,382 children. In the same year, the Volunteer Lawyers Network saved its clients more than $3 million – a significant amount of money that can then be used for daily living expenses and other essentials.

Volunteering at a community legal center

Of course, legal volunteers aren’t just limited to charity work. Community legal centers are always in need of competent men and women who are willing to put in the time to work in a dynamic setting. An article from the Survive Law blog points out a few compelling reasons to volunteer in a community legal center. Besides being an excellent venue to befriend like-minded people and establish professional connections, volunteers in community legal centers are more likely to get involved in tasks like drafting affidavits, setting up client interviews, and the like. 

Are you a lawyer looking for a way to volunteer that can make a difference in someone's life?  Why not volunteer? 


Image courtesy of The Advocacy Project


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