Bar News - June 21, 2017
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.” Doing good isn’t just something to help others, but, selfishly, it makes me feel good to do it. It’s one of the main reasons I became a lawyer.
Now, those that know me are also aware that I am now a father. I am only a couple months into my new title as “Dad,” but I find myself even more motivated to try to help. I want to show her what doing good looks like.
Over the next few years, Pro Bono funding could face some significant cuts. These cuts could have a devastating impact on the services we provide, and it is important to me that I am able to demonstrate to my daughter that it’s not just me who cares about helping those less fortunate.
The law is not always equal. While our NH Bar slogan is “Equal Justice Under Law,” the reality is that those with means can afford representation while those without cannot. This creates an imbalance. Pro Bono helps level that playing field by allowing clients to obtain needed representation despite being unable to afford it. Providing equal justice is an important part of what I believe the bar association should stand for. Checking the box helps achieve this goal one dollar at a time, and every dollar helps.
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 that box, I will be thinking about how every dollar we raise goes to helping those in need. Each dollar will go to “doing good” and helping to support those less fortunate in our community. Please join me and my firm this year in checking the box and showing our community (and my daughter) how much we care and how willing we are to “do good.”
Rory J. Parnell