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Picking the right nonprofit organization for you

As attorneys, it can be a challenge to figure out which organization(s) to get in involved in. It’s important to get involved in some organizations, but which ones? You have the bar associations, the school alumni associations and nonprofit organizations for a myriad of different interests, to name only a few. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and equally as easy to get over-involved.

I’ve tried to limit my involvement in organizations to one or two local organizations and one or two national organizations. I’ve also tried to maintain a balance between legal-specific organizations (e.g., those where I will be interacting predominantly with other lawyers), those that provide a platform for me to give back to the community and those that will help me to expand my network of business professionals outside of the legal community.

Sometimes, you find an organization that provides more than one of these components. I’m a huge fan of multitasking.

I just so happened to be talking with a colleague about one such organization recently. My colleague is involved with Senior Legal Services (which is affiliated with the Bar Association of Baltimore City), which provides free legal assistance in general civil matters and estate planning to senior residents of Baltimore City. SLS also offers education and outreach programs at Baltimore senior citizen centers and puts on a major annual event, Law Day, which this year is April 20 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The benefits as a young lawyer of getting involved with an organization that hosts an annual event like this are many.  Law Day, which is free to attendees and includes breakfast and lunch as well as a range of presentations on various legal topics and informational displays with additional relevant information, generally draws more than 200 Baltimore senior citizens to its program, who travel by bus, subway and other means to get to the event at the Wabash District Courthouse and are there waiting even before the doors open.

Clearly, there is a strong desire by the senior population to become educated about, and empowered by, their legal rights. Presenters and organizers get the opportunity to give back to the community, certainly, but also benefit from a great networking event — networking with fellow presenters and others who come out to support the event. This year, for example, Attorney General Doug Gansler will be there for the initial opening to greet attendees. Paul Ackerman, senior counsel at Constellation Energy, is also supporting the event.

SLS also is always on the lookout for volunteer lawyers who can assist clients on a day-to-day basis (which counts as pro bono) on a broad range of legal matters (which can provide a young attorney with counseling, legal drafting and even in-court experience) and to get involved on the committee (which can be a great opportunity to develop leadership skills, to network with other lawyers and non-lawyers).

If you are interested in getting involved, reach out to ngrossman@baltimorebar.org.