I have long wondered where our sense of obligation to represent indigent clients comes from. We do not do pro bono work because the bar requires or urges us to. We do so because life has dealt us a great hand. We have obtained an advanced education that so many of our citizens cannot achieve. We have been taught to understand the intricacies of our complicated jurisprudence. Ultimately, we do pro bono work because we are in a unique and privileged position to help others.
My Irish-immigrant grandfather set foot in this country with only a sixth-grade education. His last words to me on his deathbed were “grow up and become a great scholar and don’t forget you knew me.” I became the only college graduate in my immediate family and one of only three in my extended family to receive an advanced degree. I am eternally grateful that fate did not prevent this accomplishment through debilitating illness, accident, or even a wrong turn as a foolish adolescent. So I strive to share this gift every day in my practice.