Reflections on Pro Bono Work
“It’s satisfying.” “It’s rewarding.” “It’s fulfilling.” These are some of the reactions from lawyers who set aside a portion of their work for pro bono activities.
Electricians, plumbers, realtors and other professionals are licensed by the State of California, each with their own state license number. When lawyers sign pleadings, they append their State Bar license number. But what distinguishes a lawyer’s number and work from other professions is the inherent quest for public good, by representing clients to secure the rule of law, to right wrongdoing, to harmonize competing interests, ultimately to advance a public good while earning a living.
The privilege of holding a license to practice law confers immense power, but brings with it a corresponding responsibility to use that power to serve the public good. The ultimate service is pro bono publico work, offering free legal services to those in need.
Bar associations strongly encourage lawyers to render pro bono services as part of the core of being a lawyer. California Business and Professions code section 6068 (h.) imposes a duty “never to reject… the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.” In other words, lawyers should aspire to make justice equally available to all.
Rendering pro bono work can take on many iterations. Some lawyers free of charge advise nonprofit organizations about their legal questions. Lawyers in the Library offers free advice to indigent renters about landlord-tenant problems and more.
To recognize and encourage pro bono work in the legal community, on September 2, 2021 at the Bar Fund Benefit celebration, the CCCBA will award its inaugural Justice James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award to a CCCBA member lawyer whose pro bono contributions helped to change lives for the better. The application for this award is available here. Deadline for entries is July 19, 2021.
Also at this event, the CCCBA will announce the names of the recipients of the CCCBA Pro Bono Honor Roll for 2021. These members contributed at least 50 hours in the past year to worthy organizations and causes. There is still time to add your name to the Pro Bono Honor Roll. Visit cccba.org and search for pro bono recognition. The deadline for the 2021 Pro Bono Honor Roll is August 15, 2021.Join us at the Bar Fund Benefit on September 2, to celebrate those who give back to our community.