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By Matthew B. Myers, M.B.A, LexisNexis Pro-Bono Task Force Co-Chair
It is sad to say that we live in a world where we are more divided than ever. We have unfortunately created a culture where you are either with me or against me. If you are like me and try to recognize the pros and cons of each position in order to find a comprisable middle ground, you feel ostracized in this culture we have created. Due to this, I feel we have lost our ability to move forward. Posting your thoughts and prayers on a social media site is not good enough. Hoping, wishing, and dreaming of a better world is not good enough.
The Latin term “Pro Bono” translates to “For the good” and it is time to start bringing good into the communities we live in. The common misconception about Pro Bono work is that you have to be a lawyer, which is simply not true. Whether you have a Juris Doctorate and are licensed to practice law, or you are just a Good Samaritan wanting to help your local community, everyone can help. Anyone, at any time, can create a situation where we help a deserving person out for the better. A few examples of this could be helping a veteran trying to get their benefits that they deserve, creating a will for a local police officer in case the unimaginable happens, or providing children with the opportunity to have a voice that will immediate affect their life. By doing pro bono work, you have the chance to create a great sense of satisfaction within yourself whilst creating a better world in which we live in.
At LexisNexis, we provide the opportunity for employees to use 16 hours of paid volunteer time to work towards various Pro Bono projects. Our marketing department worked with LAWO/ABLE to help create a fund raising brochure for their annual campaign. Some of the members of our digital services and IT teams provided creative common images to the Ohio Poverty Lawyers organization which they used to update their website so they could reach more individuals in need of their services. Even our audio/visual team were able to help set up a room where we had a visitor from The Veterans Consortium come and present. I hope that when your organization thinks of pro bono opportunities, they think of how all divisions and groups can provide assistance to non-profit legal service organizations.
There is a clear need for legal services among the poor and quite frankly, it is overwhelming. At least 40% of low and moderate-income households experience a legal problem each year, yet only 20% of those receive legal aid. So I leave you, the reader, with this. Don’t continue being a social justice warrior, offering your thoughts and prayers to the people who are suffering. Don’t continue sitting on the side-lines watching our world become more divisive than ever. Act. Get involved. Reach out to your local bar association to see how you can help. Visit www.probono.net to learn more about what you can do. Simply put, the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.