Patrick Devine is an Associate in the Philadelphia office. His bio is available here.
Why is pro bono service important to you?
In many cases, pro bono legal representation is the only barrier that protects the most vulnerable members of our communities from homelessness, starvation, unemployment, lack of accessibility to medical care and a host of other obstacles that most lawyers cannot fathom.
How did you select an organization to support? What would you want someone to know about the organization?
I support several pro bono and legal services organizations, but I am most involved with Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA) and Philadelphia VIP.
In 2015, I applied for the Board Observer Program (BOP), which is an initiative that the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and various committees of the Philadelphia Bar Association created to give young lawyers opportunities to serve as observers on the boards of various nonprofit organizations. The BOP Committee accepted my application and paired me with CLS, and I became involved with PLA – CLS’s sister organization – by virtue of my new relationship with CLS. So, in the case of CLS and PLA, my involvement stemmed from a bit of initiative and a lot of good luck. Since completing the BOP in 2016, I have expanded my involvement in CLS and PLA. I am the Co-Founder and Chair of CLS’s Justice Rising Advocates Group, which advocates for CLS and advances its mission among young professionals. I also serve on the Finance Committee of each organization. CLS and PLA are comprised of full-time public interest attorneys, paralegals, social workers and other staff members who provide free legal services to low-income Philadelphians. Both organizations are filled with exceptionally talented professionals who have devoted their careers to pursuing justice for people who do not have the resources to pay for private attorneys.
I selected Philadelphia VIP because it has a stellar reputation for pairing volunteer attorneys with low-income clients who face myriad legal issues. Through Philadelphia VIP, young lawyers have opportunities to serve as lead attorneys on their assigned matters from start to finish, which means that they can sharpen their leadership and client relationship skills while supporting a deserving cause.
What value does pro bono service provide you and your clients?
It gives me the sense that I am doing my part, small as it may be, to make the world a better place. Also, by serving others, lawyers exhibit that they are leaders within the profession, which inures to the benefit of clients in countless ways.
why should other lawyers get involved in pro bono service?
Lawyers possess skills that can be immensely valuable to those who are less fortunate, and they have an ethical duty and a moral obligation to deploy those skills in service of the greater good. Also, by getting involved in pro bono and legal services organizations, lawyers will meet scores of other lawyers, some of whom may become mentors, referral sources, colleagues and friends.
What Advice do you have for lawyers who want to get involved in pro bono service?
Stop hesitating, and you will soon learn that pro bono service is among the most gratifying work that you will encounter in your career. If you are looking for a good place to start, check out Philadelphia VIP.