November 30, 2009

How Does Volunteering Help Me Become A Better Lawyer?

“Nothing in the civil practice of law  compares to the gritty reality of Death Row cases.  Representing Death Row  inmates presents a challenging, and highly rewarding, opportunity to help those who need it most.” - H. Thomas Wells, Jr., Former ABA President , Maynard Cooper & Gale PC 

When attorneys consider volunteer death penalty work, they often think about the personal rewards of helping an indigent death-sentenced prisoner.  But equally important are the professional benefits of pro bono death penalty work.  Below are just some of the ways that being a volunteer lawyer can improve your skills and civil practice: 

  1. Experience - Our volunteer lawyers take depositions, prepare expert witnesses, conduct evidentiary hearings, write briefs, and argue appeals in state and federal courts.
  2. Networking - The Project has recruited over 150 of the top law firms in the country to work on pro bono death penalty cases.  This volunteer lawyer community includes some of the most talented and influential members of the legal profession.  We help you connect with other volunteer attorneys through events and networking groups.
  3. Teambuilding - Many of our volunteer attorneys tell us that working on a death penalty case has created a sense of camaraderie among members of the law firm team and increased overall job satisfaction for lawyers and staff.
  4. Recruiting New Associates - Many new associates look for firms that are actively engaged in pro bono death penalty work.  Firm involvement in death penalty cases can be a powerful tool to recruit and retain the best new attorneys.
  5. Serving the Community - Guidelines issued by the ABA and other bar associations encourage every attorney to devote time to pro bono work. Representing a person facing the death penalty who has no counsel is a meaningful way to fulfill this aspiration of the profession.
  6. Client Development - We often hear from our volunteer attorneys that their death penalty work is of particular interest to friends, family, and their civil clients.  Our volunteers have reported that their clients are particularly interested in hearing about death penalty work being done by the firm.
“It is difficult to imagine an experience  in my law career more gratifying and  professionally rewarding than the day  we walked Jesus and Alberto out of prison after 12 years of serving time  for a crime they did not commit.  I am forever grateful to my firm, my partners, and our habeas team for the opportunity to represent these two innocent men.  In capital cases, there is an opportunity for lawyers like us to make a real  difference - like no other opportunity  in the law.”  - Ronald W. Breaux, Haynes & Boone, LLP