December 10, 2010

How Does Volunteering Help Me to Become a Better Lawyer?

Volunteer death penalty work is not only a meaningful way to assist those in need, but also can help you develop your skills and civil practice.  Below are just a few of the professional benefits of this work as described to us by our volunteers: 

  1. Experience
    Our volunteer lawyers take depositions, prepare expert witnesses, conduct evidentiary hearings, write briefs, and argue appeals in state and federal courts.  The experiences in court and preparing for hearings are invaluable for other clients’ work.
  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 & Retaining New Associates
    Many new law school graduates hope to work at law 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 important professional aspiration.
  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, and some law firms have partnered with in-house counsel to work on cases.
There is no greater responsibility for an attorney than to defend a person whose life is at risk. [Volunteer] firms are courageous, passionate and skilled advocates who are deeply committed to core principles of justice like due process and fairness, despite the demands of these cases. They represent the best of our profession and make us proud.

Stephen N. Zack

ABA President