One of the hundreds of questions I had prior to starting the Summer Program was whether transactional lawyers in the Corporate Department ever have the opportunity to do pro bono work. At most law schools, pro bono work is highly encouraged, and the New York State Bar Association even requires that 50 hours of work be completed before an applicant may be admitted to the Bar. However, in law school, most pro bono opportunities occur in the context of litigation. Because pro bono is such an important part of any law student’s life, I feared that my corporate rotation would present no opportunities to do pro bono work.
However, that’s simply untrue. During my first week of the Summer Program, I was given a pro bono assignment without even having to ask from a corporate associate. Beyond that assignment, attorneys in Weil’s Corporate Department do a lot of pro bono work, including frequently teaming up with a nonprofit that helps small business owners develop the resources needed to create successful and profitable businesses.
In law school, pro bono work focuses quite a lot on how to help under-resourced individuals with claims or defenses they may have in court. Given the substantial lack of transparency involved in litigation, this makes pro bono litigation work very important. However, my brief experience with transactional pro bono work has reminded me that very important and opaque legal issues present themselves to us all the time with no courtroom in sight, and the pro bono services offered by the transactional practice groups are equally invaluable.