While their inspiration to go into legal work might a love of law or a chance to help out clients with legal matters, the truth is that many attorneys also go into the field for the substantial pay. That being said, once they get into the work, they often wonder if pro bono cases are worth their time and effort.
In some states, municipalities, and jurisdictions, they simply have no choice. Local bar associations and governments might require a certain number of pro bono hours or cases per attorney per year to help out members of the community that are not able to afford legal representation. Some law firms even mandate it.
However, once such requirements are met, are more pro bono cases a good idea? Should someone not bound to do them ever pick one up? In many cases, the answer is yes, and there are three good reasons for it.
First, new or younger attorneys can get actual case experience without being assigned to an existing or paying client. This is great hands-on training and practice. Even veteran attorneys can possibly take on cases a little outside their existing background so they can broaden their skills. This is a total win-win situation for everyone involved (and a win-win-win if you win the case!).
Second, attorneys can find pro bono work quite fulfilling if it gives them a chance to pursue cases related to personal passions that their normal work might not cover. For instance, a corporate lawyer that usually deals in mergers, acquisitions, lawsuits, and bankruptcies might believe very much in helping innocent people wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.
Third, the right pro bono cases are a marketing bonanza for law firms. Legal work is often very expensive for many consumers, and even among existing clients, attorneys and lawyers might be looked down on as greedy. Helping out the downtrodden or innocent and wrongly treated members of society with pro bono cases is not just a good thing to do in itself, but it’s wonderful publicity for a business.