Vol. 31, No. 5
Where Do You Live? Pro Bono Month 2002
by JoAnn Viola Salazar
It’s spring. Time to clean up the yard, get the flowers planted, and think about painting the house. Watching our neighbors around us, we are pleased we can work together to make the place we live pleasant. But we don’t just live in houses; we live in communities that are a part of something larger—a city, a state, or a nation.
As lawyers, we are part of a professional community as well. How can we work together to improve that community? What steps can we take to show our dedication to our profession?
Cleaning Up the Yard:
Volunteering our time and expertise helps us to connect with our community. Doing pro bono work also connects members of the bar with the legal services community. Legal services programs alone cannot provide services to all low-income clients in need. Through pro bono work, we can expand the range of services available to clients beyond those traditionally covered by legal services programs (such as bankruptcy, consumer, family, and civil rights law).1
The issue of providing legal services to the poor should not be addressed only by attorneys, but by the community as a whole. Nevertheless, our involvement in pro bono issues brings the cause of legal services to the attention of community leaders and increases their support for fundraising, legislative changes, and establishing court and public policies.
When we do pro bono work, we are assisting the court. Litigants with attorneys take much less court time and energy than those who attempt to represent themselves. Participation in pro bono service improves the administration of justice for everyone.
Painting the House: The Public Image
Lawyers are always examining the way the public perceives them. Visible efforts by attorneys on behalf of the poor promote the positive image of the legal profession.2 Serving on boards and volunteering in schools and elsewhere can demonstrate that our communities are important to us and that we are involved in their maintenance and improvement. No public relations firm can do for us what we can do for ourselves through service to others in need and to our communities.
Planting the Flowers: Professional Growth
Learning new skills through the handling of pro bono cases can have a direct and positive impact on our careers. Participating in pro bono work can expand and improve our legal skills by providing new experiences in client counseling, in the courtroom, and in negotiating solutions.
Pro bono can offer the chance to broaden your experience and nurture new skills. We have always said that, to be a great lawyer, you have to act like a lawyer. Pro bono can offer a great opportunity to do so. . . . [P]ro bono offers the chance to develop and hone new skills that will inure to the benefit of all your cases. People at your firm will see you working with more responsibility and learn that you are ready to handle it.3
More Flowers: Personal
Growth in Leadership
Volunteer experiences also can help us develop the type of social skills needed to become effective leaders in the legal profession and in the community. The Dean of one prominent law school states:
. . . [S]ervice to the poor also is a wonderful opportunity to train your emotional intelligence, something vital to your growth as both a person and a lawyer.ÊThe challenges you encounter in pro bono practice should help you develop a high degree of self-awareness, the ability to control your emotions, empathy for others, an understanding of human differences and the skill to help others help themselves. All of these are essential attributes of the emotional intelligence a real lawyer must have.4
By stepping forward to assist others, we also help ourselves to grow professionally and personally. In the spirit of Pro Bono Month, get involved! Contact one of the local bar-sponsored programs listed below.
BOULDER COUNTY LEGAL SERVICES
1790 30th St., Suite 301
Boulder, CO 80301
DELTA FREE LEGAL SERVICES
P.O. Box 663
Montrose, CO 81402
GARFIELD LEGAL SERVICES, INC.
P.O. Box 1890
Glenwood Springs, CO 81602
HEART OF THE ROCKIES BAR ASSOCIATION
Law Office of Dale R. Enck
P.O. Box 1420
Buena Vista, CO 81211
LARIMER COUNTY BAR LEGAL AID
P.O. Box 781
Fort Collins, CO 80522
LOVELAND PRO BONO PROGRAM
565 N. Cleveland
Loveland, CO 80537
MESA COUNTY BAR PRO BONO PROJECT
1129 Colorado Ave.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
METRO VOLUNTEER LAWYERS
1900 Sherman, Suite 400
Denver, CO 80203
NORTHEST COLORADO LEGAL SERVICES
NE Junior College
2 Walker Hall, #22B
Sterling, CO 80701
NORTHWEST COLORADO LEGAL SERVICES
Frisco: (970) 688-9612
Gunnison: (970) 641-3023
Leadville: (719) 486-3238
Hayden: (970) 276-2161
COLORADO LEGAL SERVICES
617 S. Nevada Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
PUEBLO COUNTY BAR PRO BONO PANEL
Judge William D. Alexander
SAN LUIS VALLEY PRO BONO PROJECT
P. O. Box 22
Alamosa, CO 81101
SOUTHERN COLORADO BAR PRO BONO PROGRAM
314 W. Main St.
Trinidad, CO 81082
SOUTHWEST BAR VOLUNTEER LEGAL AID
1474 Main Ave., Suite 200
Durango, CO 81301-5410
UNCOMPAHGRE LEGAL AID
307 Main St., Suite 2
Montrose, CO 81401
WELD COUNTY LEGAL SERVICES
P.O. Box 1283
Greeley, CO 80632
(303) 351-7300, ext. 4514
1. Weiner and Ross, "From the Chair . . ." 6 Dialogue Magazine 9 (Winter 2002).
2. Id. at 10.
3. Fuisz and McKinnell, "The Pros of Pro Bono," New York L.J. (June 22, 2001).
4. Sargent, "An Argument for Pro Bono: A Message from Dean Mark A. Sargent," The Gavel Gazette, Villanova U. School of Law (Feb. 23, 1998).
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