As a new lawyer in the litigation section of a huge firm, I often felt like more was expected of me than I could handle. Learning the ropes of the office, logging billable hours, getting involved in the bar association, and having some sort of work/life balance: it was enough to make my head spin. There was also my firm’s emphasis on pro bono work, which was not required but highly encouraged for all attorneys, especially associates. I was told it was a great way to get your feet wet as a young lawyer, get involved in the bar, and give back, all at the same time.
So I said yes when a senior associate invited me to tag along to a pro bono legal clinic that my firm sponsored with one of our clients and a group called Houston Volunteer Lawyers (HVL). At this clinic, attorneys from our firm were paired up with in-house attorneys and interviewed residents at a local battered women’s shelter to determine whether the women were eligible for pro bono representation in family court. Given that my knowledge of family law was based entirely on BARBRI outlines and the fact that I had been a lawyer for all of three weeks, I was extremely nervous. OK, terrified. The in-house attorneys were some of our firm’s biggest clients. Were they really trusting me to partner with one and . . . (gulp!) . . . provide legal advice?!