Many solos who’d like to perform more pro bono work can’t do so for lack of time. So why not multi-task, and make pro bono work part of your marketing activities portfolio? Consider the example of lawyers profiled in this article, Creating a nonprofit helps others – and doesn’t hurt business either (ABA Journal, April 2007), such as Anthony Hayes who created the non-profit organization Wills for Heroes (which provides no-cost estate planning documents for police, firefighters and emergency workers) or Wynnia Kerr who set up an animal adoption shelter in Seattle. In setting up these organizations, Hayes and Kerr simply wanted to help their respective communities, but their groups have expanded beyond their wildest dreams. And through their role as founders, Hayes and Kerr have gained positive visibility and developed contacts with other lawyers who have participated in their organizations. And eventually, these connections and publicity can potentially lead to referrals or generate clients.
Neither Hayes nor Kerr started their groups with any intention of building business. But to my mind, there’s nothing wrong with using pro bono for part of marketing, so long as you’re clear about your intentions. In fact, as I see it, many blogs, particularly those that are consumer-oriented, are pro bono, or at least public spirited in nature, in that they help educate the public about legal issues. And focusing on pro bono activities for marketing is also a great tool for lawyers who uncomfortable in traditional networking settings, like happy hours or cocktail parties, which some lawyers find intimidating or demoralizing. So the next time you’re feeling guilty that building a practice hasn’t left you time for pro bono or community service, instead of griping, figure out a way to help a worthy cause that’s important to you and just go do it. You may just find, that by design, or accident or karma, that your good work for others will yield rewards for you.