Inside: The Gift of Time

Isn’t it interesting how time flies? It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us yet again. With that, it is that time of year to shop, decorate homes, firm up travel plans, organize holiday meals, attend family gatherings, and, oh yes, find the time to relax. Despite what we have planned for the holidays, it is also the time of year when many incredible organizations seek our time or our money to make a difference in someone’s holiday experience. Now if we could only find the time to handle all of this.

Unlike billable hours, our personal time is not something on which we can put a price. It is invaluable. It is precious. It is also not something we can get back. However, our work (time) as attorneys can also be invaluable to the lives our clients. Think about that case, where your client was awarded a huge legal victory because of your time and hard work. Whether it is compensation for an injury, a break-through invention needing a patent, keeping someone in their home, or protecting someone from hurt or abuse, our time has accomplished these types of victories. Have you ever thought about what would have happened to your clients had they not had the money to pay you for your work? Where do you think they would be now?

Pro bono publico is a Latin term meaning “for the public good.” The English language has shortened the phrase to pro bono and in our profession this phrase translates into performing legal work free of charge. Free of charge, however, does not necessarily mean that an attorney does not receive something of value in return for his or her work. Performing pro bono work connects us to the people in our community. It is often rewarding and fulfilling. It is an amazing feeling to watch how our work can have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of people, who but for our pro bono work, would be in a far worse position.

In this edition of the Contra Costa Lawyer, Steven Derby describes the various ways attorneys can get involved in pro bono opportunities by highlighting the non-profit organizations that participated in the Second Annual Pro Bono Expo sponsored by the CCCBA. If you are interested in learning more about the impact your volunteer time can have on high school students, Carla Garret describes her great work in organizing the annual Moot Court competition in Martinez. There, you can also read about how this program has had a positive impact on the judges, attorneys and students who have participated in the competition. This edition also spotlights Tom Cain’s dedication to providing pro bono services. Tom also provides a historical prospective on pro bono services and how one can get involved. Nolan Armstrong’s article explores the ethical side of providing pro bono services. Verna Haas shares an update regarding how Senior Legal Services is helping create additional legal resources in Contra Costa County by partnering with two local corporations. Keeping in the holiday spirit, Lisa Mendes’ second article in the All in the Family series spotlights the Marchiano family.

If you have started making your resolutions for 2017, we hope after reading these inspiring articles that one of your resolutions will be to sign-up to provide pro bono services to one or more of the amazing organizations identified in these articles. If you make and keep that resolution, it will be something you likely will never regret or forget.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and all the best for the coming New Year.