In 2017, “86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help.” Legal Services Corporation, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans 6 (June 2017). Prior studies of low-income groups similarly have found “that well over three-quarters of their legal problems remain unaddressed.” Many of these legal issues concern some of the most basic needs that someone can have: shelter, income, and physical protection.
Pro bono legal work is one avenue for filling this access-to-justice gap. It is also a terrific way for law students and newer lawyers to get invaluable legal training. More and more opportunities to participate in appellate pro bono are emerging for those newer lawyers who seek to gain appellate experience. See Ian Barker & Mary-Christine Sungaila, Volunteer Pro Bono Appeals in the Federal Courts, 36 A.B.A. App. Prac. Sec. Litig. 1 (2016).
Both as a law student and as a newer lawyer, I have benefited from taking advantage of pro bono opportunities, such as interacting directly with clients and helping to brief and argue a case before a federal circuit court. Perhaps some of these experiences will inspire other new lawyers to become involved in pro bono appellate work.