Want to help build empathy, starting with your own little corner of the world? Pro bono is your best move. You can make a career out of it, develop projects and initiatives to meet every situation, or pave the way for the next generation of lawyers.
Student Lawyer‘s first issue of 2021 looks at how lawyers have met the pro bono need in the wake of COVID-19. And we look at what the results of the ABA Young Lawyers Division Law School Loan Debt Survey mean for law students.
Law student debt: Our profession’s compounding crisis
As 2020 was happening, we reviewed the results that would be the basis of the ABA Young Lawyers Division Law School Loan Debt Survey. And like 2020, they were, frankly, a bit grim. The survey report demonstrates the growing crisis of lawyer debt. Here’s how that impacts law students.
How law students helped others during the pandemic
Law students have leveraged their legal training to pursue relief for tenants and prisoners confined during the pandemic. While some have worked though their law schools’ clinical programs or local legal aid societies, others have teamed up directly with local attorneys engaged in pro bono cases. They’ve helped tenants fight evictions and incarcerated people seek compassionate release. And they’ve assisted consumers facing debt collection, residents without water, and communities seeking to organize for legislative changes.
How the ABA stepped up legal aid efforts during the pandemic
The pandemic has affected people and businesses of all varieties—and pro bono services and legal aid organizations haven’t escaped its devastation. That has exacerbated the justice gap. The pandemic has worsened the difficulties for people who struggle to find and afford representation for their legal matters.
Think there’s nothing new in pro bono? Meet Dear Future Colleague
The goal of Dear Future Colleague, a newly formed nonprofit, is to provide free, helpful, and accurate information about the law school admissions process. Volunteers pledge two hours a month to mentor applicants through LSAT prep, personal statement edits, or any other aspect of an undergrads’ law school admissions journey.
Pro bono: The cradle of empathy in our profession
As you begin your practice, pro bono work might seem contrary to your primary focus of finding a way to make yourself useful—by racking up billable hours and being a strong producer for your law firm, if private practice is where you end up. Think again.
ABA Diversity and Inclusion Center supports diverse students
What does the ABA Diversity and Inclusion Center do? The better question might ask what doesn’t it do. Between awards, scholarships, programs, CLEs, webinars, networking events, and pipeline programs, the center’s entities work to strengthen networks of attorneys and civil rights professionals inside and outside the ABA. Their ultimate purpose is to support the ABA goal to eliminate bias and enhance diversity in the legal profession and justice system.
Motivation, growth, and the bar exam
This winter, as 1Ls reflect on their first completed semester, 2Ls—who are halfway done— consider what they want to do in the remaining year and a half, and 3Ls think about finishing up their final semester and passing the bar exam, I encourage all of you to think about a few important concepts: motivation, growth, and what’s next. All of these can positively impact your first-time bar passage and whether you move on to a fulfilling and successful career.
Putting the pro into pro bono
Simply put, we need more productive people to provide more help to more people. If living through this pandemic has taught us nothing else, at least we’ve learned how interconnected we truly are. To borrow a line from Disneyland, “It’s a small world after all.” As prospective lawyers, you have a unique set of professional strengths and proactive tendencies you can use to make a difference in others’ lives.