Tips for 1L’s to Give Back to the Legal Community

Merrick L. Gross - April 26, 2017

Tips for 1L’s to Give Back to the Legal Community

A critical component of the legal profession is giving back to one’s community through pro bono service. Providing these services is a hallmark of what we do as attorneys. Although first-year law students do not have a great deal of legal knowledge and acumen, they can participate in pro bono activities. Doing so is a great way to get involved in the profession at an early stage of one's career.

Many law schools have pro bono clinics that provide legal services to those less fortunate in various areas of the law, such as bankruptcy, landlord-tenant disputes, guardianship matters, and other similar activities. Check with your law school's career planning and placement center to determine if first-year law students are eligible to participate in such programs at your law school.

Another way to get involved is to look for a legal aid internship position outside of class during the first year of law school or during the summer after your first year. Most cities have legal aid offices that accept volunteer help. You can check with your law school's career planning and placement center for such opportunities. You can also contact your geographic area’s legal aid provider(s) directly by looking up information on the Internet or in the phone book. 

Doing pro bono work helps one develop skills that they can use once they enter the legal profession. These include client intake and interviews, analysis of legal issues, research regarding remedies and strategy, and, in some circumstances, court appearances. Not all of these tasks require a great deal of legal training; some simply require a friendly, sympathetic smile and patience. All of these skills are important to one's development as an attorney.

The other great byproduct of pro bono service is the satisfaction one gets from helping another person. In many instances when one undertakes pro bono service, they can see an immediate result from what they do.

Helping another person can be professionally and personally rewarding. It is also a great way to get involved in the legal profession as a first-year law student.