Pro Bono unrelated to practice?

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OakBrook2021
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Pro Bono unrelated to practice?

Postby OakBrook2021 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:40 pm

Is it possible to do Pro Bono work completely unrelated to the work you do in your actual practice? I want to go into biglaw (M&A, Bankruptcy, or Tax) but am also interested in the criminal justice system (particularly capital punishment); It seems to me like it'd be tough since the two areas of law are so different and someone probably wouldn't want an M&A associate working on their stay of execution lol

tomwatts
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Re: Pro Bono unrelated to practice?

Postby tomwatts » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:47 pm

Biglaw litigation departments that do significant pro bono will pretty regularly do some pro bono criminal work (e.g., habeas appeals). Although the procedural rules are somewhat different, the basic concept (making legal arguments in an adversarial setting before a judge) is enough the same that you can learn the one if you know the other. And typically you're representing someone who otherwise wouldn't have a lawyer, so they don't get to be overly picky about who represents them (as long as you're above a minimum threshold of competence).

I think it's fairly uncommon for someone who primarily does transactional work (e.g., M&A) to do this kind of thing, though. Transactional lawyers work on documents for business deals; they don't go to court. So it's kind of a different ballgame.

Bear in mind also that pro bono is probably 2-3% of what you do in biglaw, even at a firm that does a pretty good amount of pro bono (and some do none or almost none). The overwhelming majority of your time will be spent on paid matters.

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Nebby
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Re: Pro Bono unrelated to practice?

Postby Nebby » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:50 pm

OakBrook2021 wrote:Is it possible to do Pro Bono work completely unrelated to the work you do in your actual practice? I want to go into biglaw (M&A, Bankruptcy, or Tax) but am also interested in the criminal justice system (particularly capital punishment); It seems to me like it'd be tough since the two areas of law are so different and someone probably wouldn't want an M&A associate working on their stay of execution lol

It will be tough and likely not possible.

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OakBrook2021
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Re: Pro Bono unrelated to practice?

Postby OakBrook2021 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:10 pm

Thanks for the responses. I am primarily interested in transactional rn bc of my skill set, personality, and career goals; but, I'm a 0L so I'm not closed off to litigation (or anything for that matter). I imagined it'd be next to impossible for a transactional attorney to do pro bono work involving criminal procedure but thanks for confirming my thoughts.

BigZuck
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Re: Pro Bono unrelated to practice?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:14 pm

Nebby wrote:
OakBrook2021 wrote:Is it possible to do Pro Bono work completely unrelated to the work you do in your actual practice? I want to go into biglaw (M&A, Bankruptcy, or Tax) but am also interested in the criminal justice system (particularly capital punishment); It seems to me like it'd be tough since the two areas of law are so different and someone probably wouldn't want an M&A associate working on their stay of execution lol

It will be tough and likely not possible.

I'm sure Nebby is speaking from his experience working at a big law firm but from my limited experience this is 100% false.

A transactional attorney will likely never get to speak in court on a capital punishment matter, but I'm guessing that would also be the case for most BIG LITIGATORS as well (or at least more junior ones). But case research, brief writing, etc.? Sure. I know transactional attorneys who go to (and say words in) court on family cases and immigration cases.




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