Pro bono is generally defined as work that is “for the public good” or “for the welfare of the whole.” Unlike traditional volunteerism, pro bono work requires specific skills of the professional who provide the services. Simplistically viewed, from the perspective of a Bucks County attorney, pro bono work means providing free legal services.
As the managing partner of Williams Family Law, I am often asked if our law firm does its fair share of pro bono work. Often, law firms and other professionals do not provide pro bono services because they don’t have the time or don’t have the desire to “give away their services free.” Williams Family Law has a reputation as a very successful “boutique” family law firm and, as a result, I think people are often surprised at the commitment of each of our attorneys to provide pro bono legal services.
Each of our seven attorneys contributes pro bono services in varying ways. First, all of us participate in the pro bono program administered by the Bucks County office of the Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (“LASP”). As family law attorneys, some of us represent indigent litigants in custody conferences or custody hearings. For others, the commitment is to represent litigants in protection from abuse matters. These cases, commonly called “PFA’s”, involve incidents of physical abuse of one spouse or intimate partner by another. Regardless of the type of pro bono matter, an attorney’s involvement in such matters generally translates to two days a year where that attorney will not be working for paying clients.
In addition to our pro bono contributions through LASP, many of our attorneys serve as civil arbitrators through the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. That participation means another two days per annum “out of the office” resolving disputes between civil litigants. Additionally, the arbitration fees earned in this process are donated to LASP by each of our attorneys.
However, for each of us, the time representing pro bono clients, is time well-spent. Not only does it give us a chance to help those in need, it gives each of us a chance to reflect on many of the core principles we learned in law school and throughout involvement with our professional organizations. As attorneys at Williams Family Law we truly believe that we have an obligation to use our professional training to benefit our community and particularly underserved populations.