Monday, April 20, 2009

The Importance of Volunteers

This is National Volunteer Week and those who volunteer in any arena should have the gratitude of all. Whether your efforts are directed to schools, churches, playgrounds, non-profit organizations, or just picking up the trash in the neighborhood, thank you. I want to give a special nod to those who volunteer to represent the indigent in legal matters, particularly in these times when more people are in need.

Non-lawyers often comment that lawyers should do free work because they charge so much and make so much. That is true in many instances, however, the pressure on lawyers to work, bill, and generate business in private firms is very strong for partners and associates alike. The cost of running a law practice or any business is mind boggling when you actually find yourself in charge. There are bills, fees, expenses, and taxes around every corner. There is also the concern of providing a paycheck for all of the folks who help make things work.

Doing pro bono work in a private firm is often like walking a tight rope as it may be important to some of the powers that be but the lost revenue is always a concern. While in private practice, I had the luxury of working for or being a partner in firms which encouraged pro bono work. Despite this, partners and employers questioned the cost to the firm of the quantity of free work I did. So, I understand the sacrifice and precarious situation of those who feel the need to volunteer.

Let me say to those who give their time, energy, and talents, thank you.

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