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Squeezing in volunteer work between billable hours

Sarah David

Sarah David

While those of us who work for the government are often working long hours and struggling to finish our work, lawyers at private firms are often struggling to fill each tenth of an hour of their day to satisfy billing requirements.

With new technology and pressure for more flexible work schedules, this structure demands a lot of time while at work and outside of normal working hours. Trying to fit in family, friends and all of life’s other priorities makes volunteering quite a challenge. But some lawyers, like Darryl Tarver, an associate in the Product Liability and Mass Tort Litigation group at Venable LLP in Baltimore, find ways to work hard and give back.

Tarver, a Baltimore native, has always valued community involvement. For the past three years, he’s been a mentor for Higher Achievement, which works with groups of Baltimore city fifth-through-eighth graders on academic skills to help them achieve more in classroom.

“It can be stressful, but it’s also a lot of fun,” he says.

With his wedding less than a year away, a busy work schedule and other community efforts, Tarver has had to take a brief hiatus from mentoring. But as Tarver’s career demands increased, his volunteerism shifted rather than disappeared.

“The biggest thing that I’ve got going on at the moment is being on the board of the Public Justice Center and also co-chair of the Lawyers’ Alliance,” he says.

The PJC is an organization that uses legal advocacy to combat systemic injustices in Maryland, and they do some great work in the areas of labor rights, housing rights, education rights for children living in poverty, and health care rights. Tarver leads the committee that is responsible for creating partnerships and soliciting support for the PJC and its work within the legal community.

“I am often on the phone with different attorneys to solicit donations and other support, and I’ve even been able to host an event for the PJC,” says Tarver.

Being a part of a large firm has its advantages for volunteer efforts as well.

“Venable’s culture allows me to not only work hard for our clients, but to also be a leader in my community,” says Tarver. “People here realize that community engagement makes me a better person and a better lawyer.”

Blocking off a few hours each week makes volunteerism possible even for those working within the confines of the billable hour. Finding a board is a fantastic way to not only give back to the community but meet other professionals who are like-minded and committed to the community.

No matter who you are or what you do, we each of 24 hours in a day—the difference is how you choose to fill them!

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