Thank You, Pro Bono

Elysia, a woman with auburn hair and brown eyes, wears a white shirt and blue and white jacket.By Elysia Prendergast-Jones 

How are you giving thanks? I recently attended the lunch that honored the 2023 Branch Professional Award winner, Brian Beverly. His speech was so inspiring, particularly when he spoke about the importance of pro bono service. He mentioned how pro bono does more for the person doing than receiving. Nothing is truer. “What do I get from doing pro bono?” I asked myself. It is a feeling that I have something that others want and need, which I can freely give away. As attorneys, our most valuable commodity is our time and knowledge. Is that worth giving away for free?

Let’s change the way we look at giving something away and what we gain. I had the pleasure of answering questions at the Empower Hour we held. I spent an hour and was able to help more than five people while sitting at home on the computer. How do I know I helped? Someone emailed me to thank me. How much does a thank you mean to you? It means you spent some of your time and knowledge and gave it to someone who really needed it. It could mean the world to someone who needs it the most. It also gives you a feeling of satisfaction. I felt the same euphoric feeling that I get from seeing the happy ending of a Hallmark Christmas movie. That first sip of coffee in the morning is always the best. That’s the same feeling I had when I typed an answer to someone or answered a phone call during the 4ALL event. During the years, I have watched as my fellow attorneys who volunteered their time enjoyed the work they encountered.

As if that’s not enough to say “Thank you, pro bono,” it has given me so much more. I have met with young aspiring law students during the Grab-a-Coffee program. Seeing the face across the table reminds me of sitting in that chair and wishing I was on the other side. Now, I give advice and feel accomplished in my career and life. Thinking of those little things makes me say, “Thank you, pro bono.” During this time of year when you sit down with friends and family, think about how you can say, “Thank you, pro bono.” Think about the intangible gifts you can receive while doing pro bono. Think about the colleagues you can build relationships with while doing pro bono activities. I was fortunate to make great friendships, and I can’t help but say, “Thank you, pro bono.” I hope this inspires you to find your thank you.