September 13, 2019

Making Good and Doing Good Too: Pathways To Careers that Combine Business Law, Pro Bono, and Public Service

Is it possible to have a successful career in business law, and a satisfying one too?  What about the law student or lawyer who wants to dive deeply into the most complex commercial transactions and disputes, but also use their legal training and experience – including as a business lawyer – to assist the unrepresented and to improve access to justice?  These are big questions, and they deserve thoughtful answers. 

In this program, a panel of young and not-so-young lawyers, a federal judge, and an American Bar Foundation research professor will reflect on these questions and provide their own perspectives and answers.  They will also give practical examples from their experience and the experience of others about how and why law firms can promote a combination of private practice and pro bono work, and how in-house counsel can incorporate pro bono and public interest work into their practice. 

And taking a longer view, the research results from the “After the JD” longitudinal study of almost 5,000 new lawyers will illustrate how lawyers are combining private practice, pro bono, and public service, especially in the first ten years of practice.  Notably, the most recent wave of results from this study shows that lawyers are moving away from private practice, toward business both as inside counsel and in non-law positions.  And the percentage of lawyers working in private practice is in decline.  The gender gap in compensation and attaining partnership also persists.  But still more than three-quarters of the most recent cohort of survey respondents indicate that they are “moderately” or “extremely” satisfied with their decision to become a lawyer, and tend to agree that law school was a “good career investment.”  See

Personal narratives, expert guidance, and research should combine to make this program engaging and informative.  Practical tips on how to combine private practice and public service will also be shared.  Ample time for questions is also planned.