A lot of lawyers perform what is called pro bono publico. The term means for the public good, but it really just means a free service of some kind. When most people think pro bono they think about an attorney handling a case for free, but there are many other ways for an attorney to use her knowledge for the public good.
I’d like to suggest one form of pro bono activity to my attorney colleagues, and it is called law month. The purpose is for attorneys to visit schools and present something about the law to the students. You don’t need to have much of a plan ahead of time. Just be prepared to answer some questions about what you do. But if you do want to have a lesson plan, the ABA provides plenty. While law month is in May, you don’t have to wait for next year. Just ask your local bar association, or contact some nearby schools any old month. I bet many schools would be happy to have you visit. It also isn’t too late to participate this year. Many bar associations will still have schools for you to visit, especially schools in higher risk areas.
I’d like to suggest that you visit a school in an area that is considered higher risk. By that I mean schools with high poverty rates, a lot of single parents, a high proportion of parents in prison. Those schools don’t get the kind of law month participation that schools in lower risk areas get. If you want to go to your child’s school, that is fine, but consider going to two schools. It will take maybe an hour of your time per school.
I went to two schools. From the questions I was asked at the higher risk school, all of them about what happens if you commit a violent crime, it is clear to me that the children needed someone to ask, and also, needed positive exposure to the law. They also needed someone to be frank with them and to say, yes, even if the officer is wrong and pulls you over, that isn’t the time to argue. Get a lawyer and file a complaint later.
I’m actually going back to the higher risk school I first visited. Not many attorneys wanted to go to this particular school, so I agreed to go to every class that wanted to have a lawyer visit. It will take a good bit of my time, yes, but considerably less than actually handling a lawsuit for free.
I look at it this way. If I can help any of the children, who have only been exposed to the law through TV or having a parent put in prison, see something positive about the legal profession, or have any positive impact on their lives, it is worth every moment of my time. Give it a try and I bet you will feel the same way too.