Pro Bono Work and the Paralegal:
The Benefits and the Opportunities

The American Bar Association, in their Model Rules of Professional Conduct, states that lawyers should aspire to give at least 50 hours of their time to pro bono legal services each year. Further, the ABA’s Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistant Services states that lawyers should also facilitate the participation of pro bono activities for their legal assistants and paralegals, as well.

No Shortage of Opportunities for Offering Pro Bono Services

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations also speaks to paralegal pro bono work, as it states that paralegals should aspire to contribute at least 24 hours of pro bono services on an annual basis. Tracey L. Young, president of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, notes that the association has a long history of supporting pro bono activities and that paralegals can serve their pro bono activities by working alongside attorneys.

Some of the pro bono activities paralegals commonly participate in include:

  • Domestic violence clinics
  • Divorce clinics
  • General practice clinics
  • Senior citizen legal clinics

The majority of paralegals in pro bono situations serve their clients in areas of family law.

The Rewards of Working Pro Bono

Many paralegals see pro bono work as being highly rewarding, as they are able to provide services to people in need, such as low-income families who cannot afford to hire legal representation. Legal aid qualifications often depend on an individual’s income, health situation, location, and the issue at hand.

Many senior citizens often receive pro bono legal help for such issues as taxes and estate planning, while women in domestic violence situations often get pro bono legal aid to help them escape dangerous domestic situations.

Most paralegals provide their pro bono services under the guidance of an attorney, and their tasks are often related to handling client intakes, making referrals to state agencies and other resources, and collecting reports and other information.