During the many hours of networking and interviewing for EIP, every firm talks up “pro-bono”. By the time we reached Weil this summer I was pretty sure I had a firm grasp on what that term meant: dedicating hours as a lawyer to providing legal services for clients that deserve representation but cannot afford an attorney.
Last night I attended one of the many charity events for a pro bono client that Weil supports and realized how incomplete my understanding of pro bono was. I chose to attend that pro bono client event because their specific cause is near and dear to my heart.
It was only when I started looking into the organization that I started to realize what pro bono at a law firm could really mean. Almost the entire executive board of the organization was composed of lawyers from top firms. Pro bono to me had always meant casework, but here was a set of lawyers representing our field in another way, as active members of their community, guiding the direction of the cause. Their work wasn’t limited to providing legal services, but was still an important way of using their power and reach as lawyers to make a difference.
That night we listened to a student honoree discussing how the organization had helped give her an education, in a speech so powerfully genuine that it brought herself and others to tears. As I listened to her speak, I was reminded of another powerful woman with disabilities who spoke to our law school class about using the privilege and power of being a lawyer to change the world around you. That night made me realize how much more lawyers, of this firm and others, are doing in this city beyond just taking on a few pro bono clients. Now when I see an opportunity for a pro bono client or event, I’m looking for the names of involved Weil partners and associates who can help me use this new concept of pro bono to expand my work and worth as a lawyer.