Bar News - May 18, 2016
Morning Mail: Why I Check the Box for Pro Bono
I remember talking with my father when I was younger about the civic duty of lawyers. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be an attorney, or really, what I wanted to do with my life. I had always wanted to “help” people, but had yet to define how I would do that. My father had a quote from Abraham Lincoln hanging on the wall by his desk, as a reminder of why he became a lawyer: “When I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion.” That quote has always stuck with me. Do good. Feel good. I liked that, and it was one of the things that helped me decide I could achieve my goals as a lawyer.
The concept of the law as “the great equalizer” was another factor in my decision to become a lawyer. However, as I started to practice law, I saw what it was like for people who could not afford representation to go it alone. Suddenly, it did not feel like the law was equalizing matters for these self-represented litigants, who are so often confused and overwhelmed. The NH Bar Association’s Pro Bono Referral Program seeks to close this justice gap by matching volunteer attorneys with low-income people in need of assistance.
This year, on my annual NH Bar dues statement, I will check the box that asks whether I want to make an additional, tax-deductible donation to Pro Bono. When I check the box, I think about all the lawyers who are representing clients without charging a fee and the good they are doing to help those in our communities. I think about the selflessness they demonstrate and the time they volunteer to help those less fortunate. I think about supporting a program that helps provide access to justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Checking the box helps the program flourish and continue to reach out to and respond to those in need.
Do good. Feel good. It’s that simple.
Rory J. Parnell