A Lawyer's Professional Obligation

Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct state in part that a "lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year." The first comment to that rule notes that "{e}very lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer."

The MBA has many ways for lawyers to fulfill their pro bono obligation. In addition, doing pro bono can help you develop your skills and grow your practice. 

How Pro Bono Can Help You In Your Practice

  • You get real-life experience working with actual clients.
  • You can develop new skills. For example, a new attorney can gain courtroom experience by handling pro bono cases.
  • You can get training in and explore different areas of the law. Thinking about starting an immigration practice? The Community Legal Center's Immigrant Justice Project might be a good place to test that interest and learn about that area of the law.
  • You make contacts and find willing mentors. Lawyers from many Memphis law firms, government agencies and corporate legal departments assist with the monthly Saturday Legal Clinics. If you're a new volunteer, you can shadow a more experienced lawyer.
  • Distinguish yourself with clients and prospective employers. Providing pro bono shows that you are dedicated to serving others and fulfilling your professional obligations.
  • Increase personal satisfaction and obtain perspective. Nothing reminds you of why you went to law school than knowing that you helped a pro bono client through a difficult situation. It's a great way to feel good about being a member of the legal profession.

Volunteer Opportunities

Legal Clinics 

2SLAC -- Canceled Until Further Notice 
Clinic is held the 2nd Saturday of each month from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Volunteer attorneys give legal advice on a range of issues, from divorce to employment law. 

The Courthouse Advice & Counsel Clinic -- Canceled Until Further Notice
Clinic is held every Thursday afternoon beginning at 1:30 pm in Room 134 of the Shelby County Courthouse. Volunteer attorneys assist pro se litigants who have questions about the legal process. 

The Memphis Veterans' Pro Bono Clinic (Currently by Phone Only)
Due to the pandemic, the Clinic is held by telephone on the second Tuesday of each month from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. Volunteer attorneys provide legal advice to veterans on a variety of issues, ranging from child support to debt relief. You do not need to be certified to practice before the Veterans Administration to participate in this clinic, as VA benefits are not handled at the clinic. To volunteer, contact Jake Dickerson at jdickerson@bakerdonelson.com

Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) and the Community Legal Center (CLC) provide many opportunities for pro bono service.

Check out the Bar Bulletin, our weekly e-newsletter, for more ways you can volunteer. Sign up here to receive our newsletter. 

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