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5 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Do Pro Bono Work

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 24, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Pro bono work is a duty that shouldn't be brushed off as some annoying obligation. From SEC filings to redlining, when you're in-house counsel, it's easy to feel as though you're too busy to volunteer your legal services. But pro bono work can actually be well worth your time.

Here are five reasons why you should give your corporate soul a break and make a (genuine) foray into the pro bono world:

  1. To learn something new. As in-house counsel, you may have grown accustomed to the hum-drum daily operations of your legal department, while passions you had in law school fell by the wayside. You're teaching the non-legal folk around you about the law, but pro bono work is a chance to be on the receiving end of knowledge, experience, and exposure to unique legal scenarios.
  2. To meet a different crowd. As in-house counsel, your human interaction is better summed up as "interfacing." By reaching out to disparate populations, you allow yourself to connect and see law not through the eyes of those within your ivory tower company but through the lens of those you don't typically cross paths with, who are largely disconnected from the law and need expert advice.
  3. To remember why you became a lawyer. Landing an in-house gig is like hitting the jackpot in many ways, but contrary to popular belief, working as in-house counsel can be incredibly grueling. You're often the bearer of bad news and your voice often goes unappreciated. When your role as in-house counsel surprises, frustrates, or disappoints you, turn to volunteering for a cause you're passionate about. It's a way to recharge and remember why you went to law school in the first place.
  4. To serve the underserved. Millions of people go unrepresented across the country, which is sad, but also unnecessary. In-house counsel are an untapped reservoir of capable attorneys who can at least act as a drop in the bucket of a pool of folks in need of representation, as in-house counsel David Mowry writes for Above the Law.
  5. To do your duty. The American Bar Association encourages law students and attorneys to invest their time and skills to causes beyond themselves, suggesting that lawyers engage in a required number of hours of pro bono legal work per year. Think of yourself as part of a greater legal community, one that not only enjoys the privilege of its training and trade but also bears the weight of responsibility on its shoulders.

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