How Has Pro Bono Work Impacted Your Perspective?

How Has Pro Bono Work Impacted Your Perspective?

Delving into the transformative power of pro bono work, we've gathered firsthand accounts from six legal experts, including Family Law Attorneys and Immigration Lawyers. From witnessing how compassion can grant second chances to gaining a deeper understanding of geopolitical events through refugee work, their experiences offer a glimpse into how pro bono work has shaped their perspectives.

  • Compassion Grants Second Chances
  • Instilling Gratitude
  • Offering Real-Life Insight Beyond Concepts
  • Reaffirming Commitment to Restorative Justice
  • Legal Representation Transforms Lives
  • Fostering Understanding of Geopolitical Contexts

Compassion Grants Second Chances

Early in my career, I participated in a pro bono workshop where attorneys helped individuals seal or expunge their criminal records. Many of the attendees were young adults who had minor indiscretions as teens or young people. They had paid their debt to society, but a small mistake continued to follow them for years into the future. Being able to help these individuals put the past behind them and give them a clean start was very rewarding. More than the feeling of fulfillment, this pro bono work showed how attorneys can make a huge impact on the life of a single person just by showing a little bit of compassion and applying some effort. To this day, I try to seek out these types of opportunities to make sure everyone deserving of a second chance can have one.

Joshua Offenhartz
Joshua OffenhartzAttorney, Koeller Nebeker Carlson and Haluck

Instilling Gratitude

Helping people with very limited resources and almost no hope puts into perspective for me just how lucky most of us are, and how we should be grateful for every single moment.

Greg Baumgartner
Greg BaumgartnerManaging attorney, Baumgartner Law Firm

Offering Real-Life Insight Beyond Concepts

At the start of my career, I volunteered for Law Help Ontario, a pro bono legal resource center that assists people with civil matters at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. That gave me real insight into the importance of "access to justice," especially for low-income Canadians. It was no longer just a legal concept.

Volunteering at the clinic gave me a chance to understand the important role a lawyer can play in people's lives.

In addition to making me more aware, it encouraged me to take on certain types of pro bono cases to help people who generally would have trouble affording or retaining legal help, such as with CPP Disability appeals, ODSP appeals, and pet injury cases (cases where the cost of hiring a lawyer is likely prohibitive). To this day, I try to make sure I always have one pro bono case active at all times as a way of giving back to the community.

Joshua Goldberg
Joshua GoldbergPrincipal Lawyer, Joshua Goldberg Law

Reaffirming Commitment to Restorative Justice

Restorative justice has a lot of connotations in the public sphere. As a volunteer mediator for San Diego Restorative Justice, I witness the impact that direct communication has on two individuals, their futures, their families, and our community. This reaffirms my commitment to my work as a mediator and my passion for facilitating communication where each party hears and feels heard by the other.

Scott Levin
Scott LevinFamily law attorney, San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law

Legal Representation Transforms Lives

I represented a detained national of Nicaragua in New Jersey immigration detention in 2019 who was seeking asylum in the US. Taking that pro bono case made me realize the importance of having legal representation in someone's life. Having a lawyer changed the client's future—he built a family here, welcomed a child, and is lawfully employed in the US. If I hadn't taken this person's case pro bono, he most likely would have been deported to his home country. Spending some time in a detention center and building a case for the client pro bono changed my perspective on the real impact that lawyers make in people's lives. It was a unique experience.

Asel Williams
Asel WilliamsImmigration Attorney, Williams Law

Fostering Understanding of Geopolitical Contexts

As an immigration attorney, over the last five decades, I have seen a lot of human tragedy and the resulting evacuation of people coming to North America to regain their freedom and independence. However, the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was unique. In a matter of a few weeks, over 14 million people lost their homes. In a matter of a few months, some six million Ukrainians fled their country to find shelter in neighboring countries in Europe as well as in North America. The United States welcomed over 100,000 new Ukrainian immigrants since February 2022, and I was involved in helping some of them. I learned from them that in 1993, in the Budapest Accords, Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arsenal to Russia in exchange for guarantees from Russia, America, the UK, France, and China of its sovereignty and independence. As I worked with these refugees, I couldn't help but wonder whether their country would have been invaded if they had not surrendered their nuclear arms and what message we are sending to other countries in this regard. The most important point I learned, however, is that America is not helping Ukraine as a favor. It is doing so out of an obligation it took on in Budapest, where the future of possible nuclear war was being discussed. We owe them a lot.

Andy Semotiuk
Andy SemotiukU.S. and Canadian Immigration Lawyer, Pace Law Firm

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