October is Pro Bono Month in Tennessee. The Tennessee Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Month 2019 page has a list of opportunities to choose from.
It is not difficult. A lot of lawyers never provide pro bono services.
Frequently, they’ll say “I practice in [insert corporate/high end practice area], and there’s nothing I can do to help [them].”
If you really think that, call or e-mail me, and I can help find you an opportunity that will be perfect for you. Two months ago, I got a call from an in-house lawyer at a Fortune 50 company who didn’t know what his legal team could do. Not only did I find them some options to serve, but I volunteered with them. Seriously, call me if you want to volunteer, but don’t know where to start.
The vast majority of matters at walk-in clinics are just common-sense/paperwork based issues. Occasionally, you’ll get some really specific landlord-tenant or divorce question, but there is always someone else at these clinics with that expertise.
If you, commercial real estate attorney, take 15 minutes to help somebody deal with an issue about their neighbor’s barking dog, that frees up 15 minutes of that divorce expert’s time.
In my experience, most people just want somebody to just listen to their legal issues, and give them common sense advice. To be clear, these are all important questions that people have. They’ve taken the time out of their day to drive downtown, so whatever their question is, it’s a big deal to them.
And, sometimes, all it takes is a smart person to talk it through with them and make their life a little easier.
Looking to Help? There are only five days left in October, so, if you haven’t volunteered yet, here are two great last chances:
- Veterans Project Legal Help Clinic, in downtown/Gulch Nashville, on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, from 11a to 1pm. This clinic is operated by Legal Aid, and it focuses on serving the veteran community. It’s not too busy (i.e. you get about 7 customers over the course of the 2 hours), with generally straight-forward questions.
- Judge Rachel Bell’s General Sessions Music City Community Court Expungement Clinic, on Saturday, October 26. This is an incredible program that helps people clean up their criminal record, making it easier for them to find jobs. Lawyers generally need to arrive by 9:30 and should expect to stay until around 1pm.
Upcoming Legal Aid Gala. A big fundraiser is scheduled for next Saturday, November 9, 2019, An Evening at the Frist: Celebrating 50 Years of Service. This is going to be a fun night, celebrating the work of Legal Aid.
Here’s where I go a little negative. When it comes to big-law support of Pro Bono initiatives, I’ve got some pretty strong opinions. I will keep the specifics to myself, but you are welcome to ask me at the Legal Aid event.
Warning: You will be a little weirded out at how passionate I feel about the need for lawyers to be doing more, especially in Nashville in 2019.