If you are planning on a career in the law, then you may well find it very beneficial to undertake relevant volunteering activities throughout the academic process and your career.
And the bonus is you will also be helping people too – let’s find out more.
What is relevant volunteering for a law career?
Pro Bono work is offering legal advice and support for no payment and is the main thrust of most lawyers volunteering as this is how they are most valuable to charities and organisations that need help. Other volunteer positions would help a law career, such as organisation charity events or working as an advocate for children or those in need. You can also work with a volunteer legal publication and volunteering to do anything at a legal advice centre will help you and others at the same time.
Why is it a good idea?
It's good to volunteer to help and assist people and organisations with your skills. Plus, relevant volunteering will also give you the chance to experience lots of the elements that go together to create an excellent lawyer. Whilst volunteering you will spend time listening to people who are in distress and are perhaps not thinking coherently. This will give you the time to learn how to listen to clients and how to take what they are saying to go on to advocate for them effectively. This is the biggest advantage to those early in their legal careers, gaining relevant experience.
How can volunteering help?
Learning transferable skills that will assist you in your career is a starting point as is being able to meet people without forming judgements about them. Volunteering can also involve making cups of tea or coffee at a legal centre or cleaning and tidying up after other volunteers. Of course, you might meet another member of the local legal community who would be happy to employ you in the future so it could be an excellent opportunity for networking. You will also meet other people either working in the law or planning to, especially if you are considering areas such as Family Law, Welfare Law or Employment Law, but volunteering will help with any law career.
Where can you find it?
There are lots of places to start looking for volunteer positions. It's pretty easy if you are at law school as there will be people advertising for volunteers, such as the free legal advice clinic at the University of Edinburgh. If you find an organisation that you would like to help with, then ask them what you can do to help. Most Law Societies, like the Law Society in England and Wales, will help assist lawyers to offer Pro Bono services and once you get involved you will find other opportunities come your way.
Pro bono charities
Let's take a look at international pro bono charities and what they do.
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