In honor of the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Celebration Week, Legal Aid of West Virginia reached out to a few of our attorney volunteers to ask them the reasons they do pro bono work. These attorneys inspire us, and we hope they will inspire other attorneys to consider pro bono service.
Rule 6.1 of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct encourages attorneys to engage in pro bono service as a professional ethical responsibility. But there are a lot of other great reasons to engage in pro bono. Please enjoy these 6.1 reasons why you should consider engaging in pro bono service.
Reason 1: To Impact Lives
"The power of the law is its impact upon people and communities. Everyday people in our community suffer from unmet legal needs because they lack resources to retain counsel who can help them. As a lawyer I have the ability to meet those needs and make a profound impact upon the lives of those in our community by giving my time to Legal Aid of West Virginia. The power of the law to improve lives is profound. The privilege of being a lawyer comes with the duty to serve our community and those in need. It is an honor to work with Legal Aid of West Virginia to serve people in need."
-Jared Tully, Frost Brown Todd, Charleston, West Virginia
Reason 2: To Use your Legal Skills to Benefit the Community
"As so many in our communities are suffering, using your legal skills to provide help is more important than ever. As attorneys, we have a unique set of skills and knowledge not available to all. Engaging in pro bono service to benefit your community improves not only the lives of those you represent, but it also improves the public’s perception of the work we do."
-Monica Hadadd, West Virginia State Bar President, Monica Hadadd Mediation, Morgantown, West Virginia
Reason 3: To Do the Right Thing
"If you have a talent, passion or skill, share it with others because it's the right thing to do.
That's as simple as it gets for me. Learned it from my parents and grandparents, and it's part of my make-up."
-Lorraine Eckard, Eckard Law Office, Wheeling, West Virginia
Reason 4: To Grow as a Lawyer
"The people I have represented pro bono through Legal Aid have helped me as much as I have helped them. They have helped me to meet a lot of great people, to learn new skills, and to assist in getting justice to those that could not afford a lawyer.
My pro bono clients have helped me grow as a lawyer and they serve as a good reminder of why I went to law school in the first place."
Woody Hill Attorneys at Law
, Charleston, West Virginia
Reason 5: To Help Those Who May Not Get Help Otherwise
"It takes courage to do pro bono work because some of the folks you meet are in tough situations. Take pride in helping those that need it the most, the underserved. Don't be afraid to do what has to be done to help those in need. Sometimes the individuals that need pro bono help are those that find themselves in the most difficult situations.
The one thing that is the best from pro bono services are the genuine smiles and hugs you get from those you help."
-Patricia Beavers, Beavers Law Firm, Princeton, West Virginia
Reason 6: To empower people
“It’s an honor to empower someone making what could be a life changing decision. You listen to their story and provide the accurate information necessary for them to move forward.”
-Daya Wright, Daya Masada Wright Law Office, Buckhannon, West Virginia
Reason 6.1: To Fulfill Your Professional Responsibility
Rule 6.1 of the WV Rules of Professional Conduct-Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service
Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should:
- provide legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:
- persons of limited means or
- charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; and
provide any additional services through:
- delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate;
- delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; or
- participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.
In addition, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.