May 08, 2015 Articles

Service Is a Good Thing: Make It a Part of Your Legal Life

By Mary A. Prebula

Service is good for your soul! For me, as a lawyer, service means involvement in bar associations and pro bono service. The contacts I made in this volunteer work as a young lawyer not only provided me with mentors, advisors, and referrals, but with friends and compatriots who were also a part of the world of women attorneys. These connections were so important in the early days, when in the big firms there were no woman partners—or just one—and we still wore bow ties or rosettes with our navy blue or black suits.

Bar associations are the beginnings of you belonging as a lawyer, and beginning your service as a lawyer: join local bar associations, the women’s bar, the state bar, and other bars that affect you, your life, and your practice. Next to your first firm and those you meet there, the people you serve with in bar associations are your community, your legal family, your mentors, your friends, your guidance counselors. They are the people who are not in competition with you at your firm, so they can give you advice when you cannot talk to someone at your firm. They can answer the silly questions and the questions when you do not want anyone to know that you don’t know the answer. They can and will give you referrals, help you grow your practice, and recommend you to speak so you can develop an expertise. When they face you on the other side of a lawsuit, a negotiation, or an acquisition, they know your true worth and integrity. You will also find some true friends who can tell you the truth when you need to hear it. Through bar service, you will find that lawyer who will ask, are you sure you want to do this, are you sure you are right, wouldn’t it be better another way?—a lawyer’s lawyer.

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