Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

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Anonymous User
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Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:06 pm

For those 2L's and 3L's who will join big law after graduation, is it meaningful or beneficial to do some Pro Bono work while in law school?

What would be the benefit? -- one more line on the resume, on the attorney profile website, etc.?

I have never had any Pro Bono experience. I will most likely become a patent attorney, so Pro Bono while in law school sounds a bit odd or irrelevant? I do have part-time jobs at patent firms or tech companies, so school/work/life is pretty busy. That's why I'm looking for reasons to justify putting in extra time and effort to do Pro Bono.

Any similar experience or thoughts?

Master Tofu
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Master Tofu » Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:28 am

It's good to do pro bono but not for the reasons you discussed. If the only concern is if you need it for your job, then the answer is no.

BeenDidThat
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby BeenDidThat » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:07 am

Some people consider the act of helping less fortunate people valuable in and of itself.

GermX
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby GermX » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:55 pm

It's a waste of time unless you want to do something good for the sake of doing something good.

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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:50 pm

My personal anecdotal experience: I did a lot of pro bono as a 1L to hedge in case I didn't get a firm job so I could sell myself to PI orgs. Ended up leaving almost all of it off my resume. The one line I kept was brought up exactly once in 35 or so interviews. Got multiple biglaw offers.

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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:For those 2L's and 3L's who will join big law after graduation, is it meaningful or beneficial to do some Pro Bono work while in law school?

What would be the benefit? -- one more line on the resume, on the attorney profile website, etc.?

I have never had any Pro Bono experience. I will most likely become a patent attorney, so Pro Bono while in law school sounds a bit odd or irrelevant? I do have part-time jobs at patent firms or tech companies, so school/work/life is pretty busy. That's why I'm looking for reasons to justify putting in extra time and effort to do Pro Bono.

Any similar experience or thoughts?


First, there really is value of doing pro bono just to help other people.

But, if you want a selfish reason to do it, it is great for networking as well. Many pro bono projects are supervised by attorneys at biglaw firms, or those lawyers are assisting as well - domestic violence clinics, various programs to help people get benefits, know your rights clinics - I've seen biglaw folks at all of these kinds of projects. So consider it another way to expand your network, but hopefully you find doing the work fulfilling in and of itself.

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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:For those 2L's and 3L's who will join big law after graduation, is it meaningful or beneficial to do some Pro Bono work while in law school?

What would be the benefit? -- one more line on the resume, on the attorney profile website, etc.?

I have never had any Pro Bono experience. I will most likely become a patent attorney, so Pro Bono while in law school sounds a bit odd or irrelevant? I do have part-time jobs at patent firms or tech companies, so school/work/life is pretty busy. That's why I'm looking for reasons to justify putting in extra time and effort to do Pro Bono.

Any similar experience or thoughts?


First, there really is value of doing pro bono just to help other people.

But, if you want a selfish reason to do it, it is great for networking as well. Many pro bono projects are supervised by attorneys at biglaw firms, or those lawyers are assisting as well - domestic violence clinics, various programs to help people get benefits, know your rights clinics - I've seen biglaw folks at all of these kinds of projects. So consider it another way to expand your network, but hopefully you find doing the work fulfilling in and of itself.

Some public service opportunities also give you substantial experience you can't get otherwise as a 1L — I did some projects for major PI organizations that involved writing research memos about issues in potential lawsuits, for instance, and some others give you chances to handle your own clients, advocate at hearings, etc. Plus I know the conventional wisdom is that extracurriculars don't matter, but I believe employers like to see you're involved in things outside of the classroom and are a well-rounded person; I outperformed my grades in biglaw hiring and think this is a big part of why.

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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:27 am

I did a ton of pro bono work 1L year. At the big law firms that valued pro bono-or at least said that they did on their website- I always brought up my interest in pro bono during interviews. Most of the time it worked well. My only word of caution is to be careful in trumpeting an interest in pro bono work in front of a partner that has absolutely none listed on their profile page.

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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:31 am

Do any schools besides Northwestern require a certain amount of public service before graduation?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:37 pm

Pro bono does more than just let you help people and network. It's also a great way to get real-world legal experience while still in law school. For many, it's the only practical way to get such experience during the school year. Law school classes don't prepare you at all for actually practicing law, and I think you can impress your employer better during 2L summer and your first year after graduation if you have more of that practical experience under your belt. Pro bono work let me draft complaints, motions, and briefs that were actually filed in court, for example. That's valuable to know how to do.

Generally I highly recommend pro bono even for non-PI people for this reason. OP sounds like the exception, given his mentioned part-time employment. If those jobs are giving him legal experience, pro bono is probably unnecessary.

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Doritos
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Doritos » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:02 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Pro bono does more than just let you help people and network. It's also a great way to get real-world legal experience while still in law school. For many, it's the only practical way to get such experience during the school year. Law school classes don't prepare you at all for actually practicing law, and I think you can impress your employer better during 2L summer and your first year after graduation if you have more of that practical experience under your belt. Pro bono work let me draft complaints, motions, and briefs that were actually filed in court, for example. That's valuable to know how to do.

Generally I highly recommend pro bono even for non-PI people for this reason. OP sounds like the exception, given his mentioned part-time employment. If those jobs are giving him legal experience, pro bono is probably unnecessary.


This has been true for me. My pro bono work was brought up in several interviews despite having other substantive legal experience. For people going straight through, with little to no work experience and little to no LEGAL experience, I highly recommend doing pro bono whether its over a break or if you can squeeze in some during the year

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Glock
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Glock » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:14 pm

Pro bono is good for picking up experience. Most firms don't give two shits about pre-employment pro bono and they can actually be leery of people who want to get paid to work for free.

I've found that most firms use pro-bono as a way to get lawyers training and experience in an area above their competence. There's no risk of losing or angering a real client due to inexperienced attorney fuck-ups, but the attorney does get to learn a lot.

Interestingly, I picked my firm partially because of their pro bono policy. You pick what you want to do. It isn't assigned for managed. It is just your pick as long as there are no conlficts. They do want you to be smart about anticipated hours, but if they OK it then there is no limit to the number you can bill. I am very glad to have this policy available, because I have a particular passion against bullshit prosecutions of nebulous gun laws. I'd like to help on some appeals.

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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do any schools besides Northwestern require a certain amount of public service before graduation?


CLS and HLS i believe.

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Georgiana
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Re: Pro Bono for law students aiming at big law?

Postby Georgiana » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Do any schools besides Northwestern require a certain amount of public service before graduation?


CLS and HLS i believe.

Penn does




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