By Nicholas M. Hasenfus
One of the most influential professors I had in law school was Judge Greaney, who wears all black the last day of class and has us listen to Johnny Cash’s “The Man In Black.” He directs our attention to this part of the song:
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime
But is there because he’s a victim of the times
Judge Greaney’s final day of class reminds me why I volunteer as often as possible and why you should too.
Providing legal services to clients who cannot afford it – known as pro bono work – is important to the communities we live in. Regardless of how we got to law school, I always remind myself of the amazing opportunity I have being here. Not everyone will get this opportunity, and it is important to be able to give back to the places we will be living and working. To some people, the cases you will be working on will mean the world to them, and your input can make a huge impact on their life.
Moreover, providing pro bono legal services gives you a chance to do interesting, diverse, substantive legal work. While a rising 2L, I worked in the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office and was able to write appeal briefs for the Rhode Island Supreme Court. As a 2L, I also was able to teach constitutional law at Chelsea High School in Boston as part of the Marshall-Brennan program, which aims to educate and inspire high school students about the legal system.
It is easy to find an interesting pro bono opportunity that will give you great legal experience while benefiting the community.
Nicholas M. Hasenfus JD’15 is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School in Boston and a former U.S. Marine. He volunteered more than 500 hours while in law school. He is an Associate at Holland & Knight in Boston.