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Pro Bono Net

Lawyers serving the public good.

In honor of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, Pro Bono Net has lined up a variety of guest bloggers from law firms, legal aid organizations and elsewhere to share their pro bono ideas and experiences. Check back each day between Oct. 24-28 for new posts, and visit the Celebrate Pro Bono site to learn how you can involved in events near you.

Several years back, I worked on a series of pro bono asylum matters that profoundly affected my view of the world and my profession. Although the matters were not related, the three clients shared important characteristics: each was educated, professionally successful and respected in his community. Each belonged to the same ethnic and religious group as his country's ruling elite. Each had a wife and children. And each could have easily, effortlessly blended into the masses and lived a peaceful, prosperous life. But each of these men stood in vocal opposition to human rights abuses perpetrated in their respective countries knowing that it could - and ultimately would - put them in the cross hairs. Read more.

While some memories may fade over time, a few manage to remain just as vivid as the very day they were embedded. For me, such enduring memories seem commonplace when reflecting upon my first pro bono asylum case, in which I represented Abdul, a 28 year-old man who escaped from President Deby's totalitarian regime in Chad. Read more.

Would you like a smattering of every delicious dish we offer, madam? Or would you prefer the prix fixe, with items selected to go together, and a wine pairing? Of course, there's no right answer to this question. It all sounds fabulous; I'll take two, please. But perhaps, in the pro bono world, there is at least a better, if not a right, answer. Read more.

No one was prouder of my becoming a lawyer than my grandfather. A tradesman who worked with his hands all his life, he had a heart ten times his size and went out of his way to help others. He instilled in me the importance of giving back to those in need. I was very fortunate to be invited to join a law firm that shares those values. Read more.

Shortly after I graduated law school and began work at a Wall Street law firm, I ran into a former high school teacher of mine, the writer Frank McCourt. After I reminded him of who I was (I apparently didn't leave much of an impression as a student) he asked what I was doing with myself. I told him that I recently became a lawyer. "That's fine," McCourt responded. "There are plenty of poor people who need lawyers," and he walked off. Read more.

It was the moment of my interview that I had been dreading: "I would like to hear your Spanish, por favor. ¿Podría hablarme en español?" I had been preparing to answer this question every night for a week - ever since I learned that I had an interview for my firm's year-long fellowship at inMotion, a fantastic organization that provides free matrimonial, family and immigration law services to indigent women in New York City. Read more.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) held a pro bono celebration last week to honor the great work of our volunteer attorneys and law students and to welcome new volunteers. It is inspiring to see the pro bono commitment of small firm and solo practitioners and law students who may have few resources to support their pro bono work but are among our most dedicated volunteers. Following are the words of a few of these volunteers. Read more.

As a third year law student, I am only now beginning to understand the advantages of doing pro bono legal work. Of course, there are the obvious benefits one gets from helping others. It is great to see the gratitude of the clients you work with when you volunteer your time. Read more.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then why haven't the needs of those denied access to justice given birth to more innovation in our world? Why aren't we innovating every step of the way? Surely it's not because the need isn't there. Read more

I've worked in Bulgaria, Hungary, and the U.S., and since 2002 I've been responsible for managing the European pro bono efforts of PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law. As a lawyer who has observed pro bono practice on both sides of the Atlantic, I can tell you that the contrast between the two is stark. But that's beginning to change. Read more.

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Volunteer Profile

Learn about Christopher Mendez, a former Marine and a volunteer in the Microenterprise Project at Volunteers of Legal Service NY.  Our feature speaks of his pro bono journey through NY's 50 hour pro bono requirement, and an insight into the important work of his client, Community Health Worker Connections in the South Bronx. READ MORE

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