How Can Lawyers Give Back To The Community?
Being a lawyer and advocating on behalf of your clients is a rewarding experience in and of itself, but lawyers often wonder what more they can do to give back to the communities where they live and work. Giving back to the community is not only a rewarding experience, but it provides an outlet for lawyers to get outside of the workspace, take their minds off work, network, and learn. No matter what type of law you practice, there are always ways you can offer your support to the community and make a positive impact. To help you get started, below are some examples of ways that lawyers give back to their community.
How Can Lawyers Give Back To The Community?
Local Law School Mentoring/Volunteering
Wherever you may be located, chances are that there is at least one law school local to your area (or one that you’re getting regular email updates from!). Whether it is your alma mater or not, local law schools are almost always looking for local lawyers to assist in various ways.
For instance, most law schools provide “mock interview” opportunities for their students as they prepare for summer internships and their careers. The career services office may need local lawyers to help conduct these mock interviews and offer constructive feedback to the students. This is a great way to meet students who may be your colleague soon and foster relationships.
Another way lawyers can give to their communities through local law schools is by volunteering their time to coach or judge negotiation, mock trial, or moot court competitions. Volunteering as a coach or judge allows you to give students practical feedback on their performances and help them build a foundation for their practical legal skills.
Helping students with mock interviews and coaching or judging a competition may also lead to you becoming a mentor to one or more students. Being a mentor to a student allows you the opportunity to guide and develop your future colleagues. Mentoring the young members of your community can be an impactful and satisfying way to make a difference in your community.
Pro Bono Work
Another popular way for lawyers to give back to their community is by offering their services without charge, or pro bono. If you work for a law firm, your firm may have a system or process for taking on pro bono cases. If your firm does not, most communities and local bar associations have systems set up for free legal services that you can look into. Or, alternatively, you could propose a pro bono system at your law firm. That could be a great way to get more lawyers involved in providing their services to the community and showing your initiative could be beneficial for your career.
Most large cities and local bar organizations that have legal aid clinics or volunteer organizations have pro bono opportunities for specific interests and skill sets. Look around to see what is available in your area and where your experience can help those that need it.
If you are looking for a way to give back to the community that does not necessarily require or involve your legal skills, volunteering for a nonprofit might be a great option. Almost every community has a nonprofit presence. You can find one that supports a cause near and dear to your heart and volunteer in a number of ways. There are a ton of ways you can help a nonprofit, from leading petition campaigns to fundraising efforts.
Alternatively, if you are looking to be more involved than just volunteering, you could serve as a board member. This will likely take up more time than being a volunteer, but you could be involved in the decision process for your chosen nonprofit. Dedicating your energy and resources to a nonprofit is a valuable way to give back to your community.
We all know that being a lawyer is not always the easiest job or a stress-free job. Lawyers are people too and need hobbies and outlets outside of work. Thankfully, there are multiple ways for lawyers to both give back to their communities and participate in creative outlets. For example, a popular creative outlet for lawyers is community theater. If you have a background in acting, or have always wanted to act, or even just want to improve your presentation or public speaking skills, check our your local community theater! See if they are hosting auditions for an upcoming show or hosting workshops. Not only is it a great way to meet new people, but you are also providing a low-cost (or free) form of entertainment for members of your community.
Another way to find a creative outlet is through your local church or religious organization. Oftentimes, churches and other religious organizations are looking for members to join their choirs or volunteer to supervise art/music classes for their younger members. There are plenty of opportunities out there for lawyers to give back to their communities in creative ways!
Serving as an Appointed Government Official
Lawyers can also give back to their communities by being actively involved in their local government. Many local governments need leadership throughout their various organizations and commissions. Some examples include historical societies, zoning commissions, library boards, and planning commissions. These positions likely will not take up much of your time, but they will require your active attention and participation. If you have the capacity to take on a position as an appointed government official, it can benefit both your community and your career. You can actively make decisions that improve your community and having an appointed position on your resume may look impressive to future employers.
Earlier we said that being a coach for a law school competition team is a valuable way for lawyers to give back to their community. However, coaching a law school competition team is not the only way to coach and give back to your community! Check out your local grade schools, high schools, park districts, and athletic clubs – they may be looking for volunteers for some of their sports teams. Being able to teach a team and guide them throughout an entire season not only gives you something to look forward to outside of work but also gives you the chance to make a lasting impact on the lives of your players. You can teach them valuable lessons and provide a safe place for them to have fun!
Start a Book Club
Whether you are new to your community or have been present for years, starting a book club is a great way to engage your fellow community members. You can either start by inviting a few members you are friends with or acquaintances of and grow it from there, or you can put out general ads on local social media pages or in local bulletins to spread the word even more. A book club allows community members to have a reason to get together and engage in a healthy discourse around a chosen book and other topics that come up.
You can further engage in the community by having a different member host the book club at their house or business and ask that each member bring something to the meeting for everyone to enjoy, such as baked goods. Starting a book club offers the community a safe place to gather and discuss different subject matters and topics.
Participate in Charitable Races
If you are a runner or want to become a runner, another popular way to give back to the community is participating in a charity race. Most communities offer some sort of 3k or 5k race at some point in the year, typically with a charitable cause attached. You can train and participate in a healthy activity while raising money and awareness for a good cause. Alternatively, if your community does not offer a charitable race at some point throughout the year, you can participate in a virtual challenge and spread the word via social media. Other members of your community may also want to get involved in that virtual challenge, bringing more awareness and donations to a good cause.
Share Your Knowledge
Sharing your knowledge as a lawyer is an incredibly valuable way to give back to your community. There are many ways that you can share your knowledge with your local community and with others all over. Some ways include:
- Giving free talks
- Creating a blog or Twitter account about general legal topics and answering common/general legal questions
- Offering to teach a free class at a church, community center, or another public forum
- Writing an op-ed or column in your local newspaper or magazine
If you share your knowledge (but remember, not legal advice) to your community, it not only builds your personal network and reputation but provides valuable insight to people who need it. For example, if you offer a free class on estate planning basics for your community, you may be able to provide peace of mind to community members who have always wanted to create an estate plan but do not have the resources to do so.
There is a wide variety of ways that lawyers can give back to their communities. The ones listed above are just the starting point for those looking to become more active in their communities but are by no means an exhaustive list. Find a way to give back to the community that not only provides value but is something you enjoy. For example, if you want to give back in a way that does not involve your legal skills at all, consider one of the creative outlets. In any event, your community will appreciate your time and effots!
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