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Finding the best way to give back

do good cloudEven though being a young lawyer can be really stressful at times, I think most of us would probably still consider ourselves lucky to be in the position we’re in and fortunate that we can give back. Last weekend I did some volunteering for an organization I really love: Pets on Wheels. I felt like I was really making a difference and it got me thinking that I need to step up my volunteering on the legal side.

It’s important to me to take time to give back, even though it might not always be easy. It’s sometimes tough to find the extra time. It can also be intimidating.

I’ve done just a bit of pro bono work and, even though I was trained thoroughly on all of the materials, I was still very worried because I didn’t have any first-hand experience to rely upon. I would love to take on more pro bono work involving areas of law that I am passionate about but I don’t have the experience to feel comfortable enough. I always have that lingering fear that I might make a mistake and make the client’s problem worse.

Michael Siri wrote recently about how pro bono work can be a great opportunity for attorneys to gain experience and I agree with that. What I really need to do is to focus my interest on how I am going to give back and then spend the time fully immersing myself to learn that area of law. That way I will not be (as) scared about taking on more cases.

I always figured that my pro bono work as an attorney would be a natural offshoot of the cases and area of law I already practiced in. But until I really find my niche and get on my way to becoming an expert, I will have to invest the extra time to learn something on my own time. Who knows? Maybe this will help set me on my career path.

How do you like to give back? Does your firm have any sort of program that encourages attorneys to take on pro bono cases or to build their pro bono hours?

2 comments

  1. I give back through the Lawyers’ Campaign Against Hunger, which raises money from Maryland lawyers for the Maryland Food Bank and the Capital Area Food Bank. I am the Chair of the Campaign (we are in our 25th year), and over the last 25 years, we have raised $3.18 million to fight hunger in Maryland. We solicit lawyers and law firms throughout Maryland. My firm, Gordon Feinblatt LLC, is one of the Campaign sponsors. I am not only the Campaign Chair, but I am my firm’s Campaign Advocate, which means I solicit the individual lawyers throughout the firm to contribute. We also have representatives from University of Maryland and University of Baltimore law schools on our Executive Committee, and both schools have events geared towards the Campaign. Last year we raised $307,000, and this year we have a lofty goal of $330,000 to raise by December 31, 2012. We are kicking off the Campaign this evening with an event at the Food Bank where Attorney General Gansler and other Maryland lawyers will be sorting and packing food that will be distributed to the Maryland Food Bank’s 600 statewide partners consisting of pantries, soup kitchens, school programs, and other community based feeding programs.
    Our website can be found at http://www.lawyersagainsthunger.org. If you are looking for another way to give back, I invite you to join me in helping to feed the hungry across Maryland. No donation is too small, and every dollar donated can purchase 2 meals. And the Food Bank can always use volunteers to help sort all the donated food.

  2. Oh wow, this sounds like a great opportunity to get involved in Michele. I will definitely be checking out the Lawyer’s Campaign Against Hunger. Thank you!