Pro Bono Newsletter
Pro Bono Is a Part of Professionalism n AILA Practice and Professionalism Center
By Ken Mayeaux I
American Immigration Lawyers Association www.aila.org
must admit that as a young lawyer I didn’t value pro bono service as much as I do
today. I was a busy commercial litigation associate in a large law firm. Billable hour requirements, the stress of large-scale complex litigation, and a firm culture that did not value pro bono service made it difficult to fit pro bono representation into my practice. But a lot has changed in 25 years—in my own professional life, and in the profession as a whole. As I moved up the as- sociate ranks, I began taking pro bono cases through our local pro bono project. Over those years, the profession’s appreciation and support for pro bono service also deepened.
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I only wish I knew then what I know now about why pro bono service is so vital to the profes-
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Why Should I Do Pro Bono?
sion and to every lawyer’s career. Why do pro bono? Let me share some lessons I and others have learned.
Pro Bono Service Is My Professional Responsibility The very first sentence of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct reminds us that as members of the legal profession we have a “special responsibility for the quality of justice.” Rule 6.1 of the Model Rules tells us we can meet our responsibility to render public interest legal ser- vice by, among other things, pro- viding professional services at no fee or a reduced fee to persons of limited means. As the privileged keepers and ministers of our country’s complex and bewilder- ing immigration system, immi- gration attorneys have a special responsibility to ensure that all people, regardless of the ability to pay, have access to justice.
Pro Bono Service Builds Dynamic Law Firms Younger (and older) attorneys are oſten looking for deeper mean- ing in their careers. A firm with a strong pro bono culture attracts young attorneys and gives them an opportunity to feel connected to a larger mission of promoting justice, not simply providing legal services for pay. A firm’s strong pro bono commitment can create a positive work environment and foster a sense of pride and accom- plishment as the firm’s attorneys perform pro bono service. This, in
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u ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS: Spotlight on Jennifer Peyton 2 AILA Hosts 1st Pro Bono Clinic in San Diego 2 AILA Chapters Participate in Citizenship Day 5-7 www.aila.org 1