Public Service and Volunteering: Values to Live By
By Anne-Marie Fulfer
Public service is emphasized throughout a lawyer’s career through a variety of communications, including CLEs, meetings, columns, and rules. Here are two excerpts from the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct:
PREAMBLE: A LAWYER’S RESPONSIBILITIES  … As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education.
6.1 Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least fifty (50) hours of pro bono legal services per year to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations.
When I was growing up, among the values my parents and grandmother instilled in me were public service and volunteering. I volunteered through church groups, school opportunities, and 4-H. In more recent years, I have served as a parent volunteer at my children’s schools, on my community’s youth hockey board, and as a Rotarian.
I have met many amazing volunteers, doing many amazing things through the years, but today I am focusing on two amazing volunteer opportunities that only lawyers have: first, to render pro bono legal services to persons of limited means, and second, to mentor law students by bringing them on to your pro bono cases.
Connecting to a pro bono case/client is easy! The Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program and Idaho Legal Aid Services jointly fund the Idaho Pro Bono Opportunities Website at www.idahoprobono.org providing “a free and convenient way for attorneys in Idaho to find and volunteer for pro bono opportunities.” Once an attorney activates their account, they can set up filters for types of pro bono opportunities by legal and geographic areas, and the system sends alerts as opportunities arise.
You are not limited to the cases listed on the IVLP website. If you have been considering representing an existing client pro bono, they may be eligible to participate through IVLP. They can apply to IVLP by completing the form at this site: https://laserfiche.isb.idaho.gov/Forms/IVLP-Application. You can let IVLP know that a potential client will be applying, and IVLP will let you know when they have set up the case.
If you need help with researching an issue or writing a memorandum, you can contact one of our two law schools to request a law student to assist you. The University of Idaho and Concordia University require their students to complete 50 hours of attorney-supervised pro bono work and encourage them to complete more than the 50-hour minimum, with success; students at U of I and Concordia, working with attorneys, completed in excess of 20,300 hours in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.
The nuts and bolts legal work that students complete with attorneys is invaluable in assisting them in becoming professionals who are better prepared to enter the legal profession. And, the collaboration can create a lasting mentor-mentee relationship that enriches both parties, as well as the legal profession. If you are not able to take on a pro bono case, please remember the Idaho Law Foundation’s Access to Justice Idaho (AJI) Campaign. Idaho is one of only two states that does not provide funding for civil legal aid, so AJI raises funds for DisAbility Rights Idaho, Idaho Legal Aid Services, and the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program. You can give today at https://isb.idaho.gov/ilf/access-to-justice/.
For more information on how to engage with law students to work on your pro bono projects, please contact:
Kristi Denney, Director of Externships & Pro Bono
University of Idaho College of Law
Brenda Bauges, Director of Externships & Pro Bono
Concordia University School of Law
Anne-Marie Fulfer is the Assistant Dean for Career Development at the University of Idaho College of Law and a 1999 graduate. Based in Moscow, Anne-Marie has overseen the Career Development Office for Moscow and Boise since 2003. Anne-Marie is a member of Idaho Women Lawyers and the Rotary Club of Moscow (celebrating 100 years in February 2020).